By Katie Fehlinger

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For some, a cancer diagnosis can stop people in their tracks.

But Maria says she was used to walking through the battlefield with family by her side, and learning she had breast cancer was only going to be part of the story of her life.

Combining ingredients is what Maria Kasapis loves to do. She serves baked goods fresh from the oven.

“They wait for my dessert.”

But Maria wasn’t always so focused on making and baking.

Eight years ago she was recovering from a battle against her own body.

“I was 26 and I felt a lump in my breast. And you know, I was so young and I didn’t think much of it, but it didn’t go away.”

What she believed was a cyst led to multiple biopsies, mammograms, and eventually, a breast cancer diagnosis.

“I was in shock. I’m like, how can this happen? I’m so young. I didn’t know what to think.”

Maria endured a double mastectomy and later, reconstructive surgery. She says early detection was key to her recovery.

“It was caught because of me being aware of my body, researching and then bringing it up to my doctors.”

Maria and her family walked in the Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure for years, but on the year of Maria’s diagnosis, she says, “It was weird signing up for Race for The Cure that following year because I was signing up as a ‘survivor.’ I got the pink shirt. And it starts hitting you then when you’re down there.”

“Maria’s Cheerleaders” walked every step of the scenic Philadelphia 5K, proudly wearing bright pink tutus as part of her team.

“It’s just a very powerful day.”

This year, Maria’s five-year-old god-daughter, Elisa, will join in on what has become an annual Mother’s Day tradition.

“Walking in a tutu.”

Dressed to impress, Maria and her “cheerleaders” celebrate survival.

“It will be okay. It’s going to be a struggle, but you surround yourself with the right people, ya know, everybody loves you, and you’ll definitely get through this.”