LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Sometimes, adversity can change people in a remarkable way. That's what happened to Juliana Figueiredo, who turned her battle against breast cancer into an inspiration for others.
Last November, months after the health coach celebrated her 40th birthday, her life took a turn she never expected. On her first mammogram, they found a lump. It was stage three breast cancer that had spread.
"It was very hard, knowing it had also spread to the lymph nodes, it makes it even more scary," Figueiredo added. "I knew that I just had to fight. But I didn't know how. So, you start learning what to do where to go. You just do it."
She faced her illness head-on and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiation. But she realized cancer is a tough opponent.
"You don't feel good. You look very different, and that reflects on how people see you," she said.
Then one day during chemotherapy, it came to her. Something so simple, it made her laugh when she put on a spongy pink ball on her nose — the kind that clowns wear.
That's when she knew she had to start a campaign called Pink Nose Way for patients, loved ones or anyone who needs joy.
"I realized wow! What if people start sharing smiles? Everybody is going to be better. And what if we share smiles and raise awareness at the same time," Figueiredo said.
She started passing the pink noses out a few months ago. And it caught on.
"People are wearing those noses, taking pictures and sharing them on social media," Figueiredo said.
From the surfer taking on the waves, to the officer protecting and serving awareness, the pictures and videos keep coming in.
"When that cancer patient, that woman, is feeling not so good. Maybe she can put the nose on and smile, and then it is contagious," Figueiredo said.
She pays for everything in the packets she passes out. Each contains a pink scarf, a button and a note that reads: "Life is better when you're laughing." People all over the world seem to agree.
Figueiredo calls it her "constant companion." She has the pink nose with her on a walk with a best friend, on the couch with a new friend, or heading into radiation.
"There's no way you look at this and don't smile," she said.
Figueiredo knows there's no clowning around when it comes to cancer. But she plans on winning the battle.
Until then, the pink nose stays on for joy, for strength, for laughter, which may just be the best medicine of all.
If you would like to support Figueiredo's Pink Nose Way campaign, go to her GoFundMe account.
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