CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Ann Hooper's cancer story started before she ever heard the words, "you have cancer."
In 1999, two of her close friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. To show support, she was a part of starting the Circle-Up Team. A group of people devoted to raising money and awareness for cancer research.
Then, equipped with a musical background, Ann helped bring the music of Sing for the Cure to Charlotte. Sing for the Cure is a concert of music and storytelling that walks the audience through the cancer journey through song. The goal of the 100 singers is to keep awareness alive and bring hope.
Ann believes that the closer you are to a survivor the more hope you can see in cancer, "If we can take the fear away, we can focus on helping and healing."
By surrounding herself with cancer fighters and survivors, she was able to see the hope that can shine through a diagnosis. She saw that cancer didn't have to be a death sentence and realized the importance of education and how cancer treatments could affect people differently.
Then in 2003, Ann said, "It got personal."
She says she was able to power through radiation and five years of medication, with perspective on her side.
"I didn't struggle finding hope," Ann said.
She witnessed women and men face cancer head-on and win. She knew it would be a long road, but at the same time, had a peace that she would beat it too.
And she was right!
Twelve years later, Ann is in remission and is dedicated more than ever to spreading stories of hope and education to the masses.
Even though cancer is in her rear-view window, the experience was life-changing, for the good and bad. She still has complications from the medication, but she says cancer gave her perspective and helped her figure out what matters most.
One of her friends, who what first diagnosed in 1999, lost her second battle with cancer at the age of 50. Ann says it was devastating, and feels the loss everyday. That loss fuels her fire to help find a cure or many cures.
She believes that helping people become more informed about what's ahead can help "take the fear factor out."
Sing for the Cure has been performed in Charlotte three times since 2002. Their last performance was last year. But in 2015, the spirit behind Sing for the Cure will be taking on a new cause, Cyber-bullying.
Ann says it's another issue that needs awareness and draws parallels with cancer awareness. In both instances Ann believes that victims need to be honest with each other. And says it's important to share their feelings, struggles, and triumphs.
The working title for the September 3, 2015 production is "Stand Up, Sing Out, Stop Bullying." And will be performed at CPCC's Halton Arena.
And don't forget about the Circle-Up Team! They've raised over $500,000 to date for Cancer research.
Ann hopes that some day, one of those dollars will be what it takes to find those cancer cures.