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Former Smooth Jazz Radio Hosts Shares Battle With Breast Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– For many families, Mother’s Day means an annual trip to the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure.

One former Philadelphia radio DJ has participated for the last 15 years, supporting the cause, but the race became much more personal when she got her own life-changing diagnosis.

Her voice may sound familiar. Deserie McRay-Berry served as a radio DJ with WJJZ Smooth Jazz in Philadelphia. That job came with ease as her soothing voice kept listeners engaged.

A breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 was anything but an easy journey, complicated by its aggressive form.

“It was stage one cancer, but it was a very aggressive cancer, which is aggressive in African-American women apparently,” said McRay-Berry.

Long before her own diagnosis, McRay-Berry began participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, running at her own pace to support the cause. She’s still got her first race numbers that date back to 2002 to prove it.

“I’m not a runner, I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody, just to myself. I wanna complete it and I’ve been doing it ever since every year now,” she said.

The race took on new meaning after her diagnosis in 2007. No longer running for others — for McRay-Berry — her race was now very personal. Her own battle fueling every stride.

“I had to do four bouts of chemo. I had to do 32 days of radiation… I lost all my hair,” she said. “I felt a lump… I asked my husband, ‘Do you feel that?'”

McRay-Berry was featured in a 2009 Susan G. Komen Celebration of Life video, with other survivors who shared their story. Her story now one of survival.

“I made it. I went through it, and I made it and here I am today. I’m more than 10 years cancer free. My cancer birthday is July 11 and I’m excited,” she said.

In 15 years, McRay-Berry has never missed a race and she doesn’t plan on starting this year.

“The race… obviously I ran for all the other people who have cancer but I also run for myself,” she said. “Every year at the end I always cry. It just makes me cry.”

Tears of joy after the struggle shared by so many others in the fight of their lives. McRay-Berry has one bit of advice for those who may find themselves getting that life-changing diagnosis one day.

“If you do contract or get cancer, stay positive about it. Ninety-seven percent of my cure was being positive. I didn’t let it get me down,” she said.

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