Chanté Sanderson, now 22, from Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, was in the middle of her second year studying as a play worker at Leeds Beckett University when she found a large lump in her right breast in May last year.
Despite her young age, tests revealed that the lump was cancerous and she underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, 25 radiotherapy sessions and had a mastectomy before reconstructive surgery.
Adamant that the diagnosis would not define her, she completed her second year during her treatment and returned home to South Yorkshire to complete her studies. She graduated in July.
Miss Anderson is hoping that her story will encourage people to get behind Stand Up to Cancer – Cancer Research UK’s annual fundraising night of live entertainment on Channel 4 on October 21.
She said: “I want to show that you can do anything when you put your mind to it and illness doesn’t have to define you.
“That’s why it’s so important to me to back Stand Up To Cancer. I really feel like I did exactly that and didn’t back down.
“What matters now is I’m alive and others aren’t as lucky as me, but also I’m here as proof that it can happen to anyone.”
Following her surprise diagnosis, Miss Sanderson opted to have her eggs frozen in case her treatment at Sheffield’s Weston Park and Royal Hallamshire Hospitals affected her fertility.
She added: “The stats show one in two people will have cancer at some point in their life. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
Other than watching Stand Up To Cancer, people can also show their support by buying special Henry Holland-designed clothing and accessories such as pin badges and digital watches, with the proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.
For more information and to get involved visit standuptocancer.org.uk.