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Woman celebrates over 50 years breast cancer free

January 25 marks Shirley Bonucelli's 51st year of being a breast cancer survivor. When she was first diagnosed, there were no pink ribbon campaigns, support groups or large-scale charitable initiatives, according to

In 1961, Bonucelli attended a movie at the Stockton Theatre in Stockton, California, which was coincidentally an American Cancer Society movie about breast cancer. She performed a breast exam when she returned home and found a lump in her left breast.

"By golly there was this thing growing about the size of my forefinger. I'll never forget the feel of it. It was very granular. You could not see it...there was no pain," Bonucelli told the news source.

Later than year, when Bonucelli awoke after her surgery, her left breast was removed along with a portion of her pectoral muscle. More than twenty years later, Bonucelli would return to have her right breast removed after another tumor was found. Miraculously, the cancer did not spread and she is healthy to this day. Shirley credits early-detection and the support of her husband Joe for her strength to recover.

According to, there are currently 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. 
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