Charly Williams, aged 30, from Bearwood, Birmingham, had just started work in her first job as a chartered surveyor when she discovered a pea-sized lump in her right breast.
At the age of just 23, she assumed she was far too young to have breast cancer and thought nothing of it.
But fortunately her mum took her to see her doctor and she was dumbstruck when a biopsy revealed that the lump was malignant.
She said: "At my age I didn't really expect it - I'd never heard of cancer being in someone so young. Now I know it doesn't discriminate on age."
Once surgeons had made a tissue excision to remove the lump and surrounding tissue, Charly underwent a nine-month course of chemotherapy.
It was followed by three weeks of radiotherapy before she was given the all-clear, and even then she returned to her doctor for a check-up every three months.
Charly, who has been helping Cancer Research UK to raise money and awareness of the disease ever since, said: "It's a shame it takes a famous person to make people stand up and listen. But it is important to raise awareness.
"If I can manage to change one woman's attitude or outlook towards breast cancer and checking themselves then I will have done my job.
"It's not an easy thing to have gone through and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but it's changed me into an extremely positive person.
"People are scared by the word 'cancer' especially older generations who remember when it meant nothing more than the fact that you were going to die.
"Now there are so many treatments out there and there is a good chance that if you spot it early enough they can treat it. I am living proof of that."