Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

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Bizzy’s Story: From ‘The Amazing Race’ to Breast Cancer Survivor

Two women stand outdoors, both with determined expressions and wearing sleeveless blue tops. They face the camera, flexing their biceps and showing off their fitness trackers. One woman wears a headband and the other has a bandana armband. The background is blurred.

For Wisconsin mom of three and firefighter Bizzy Smith, 2022 was a whirlwind of emotions, beginning with receiving the call that she and her best friend and fellow firefighter Sunny Pulver had been cast as a team on season 36 of “The Amazing Race.” The year would end with her struggling for a diagnosis for the lumps in her left breast.

“It was my dream to be on the show,” she said. “As a part of the pre-taping requirements, I had to have a physical, which was the first time I had been to a doctor since after the birth of my third child the previous year.”

Unexpected Discovery: Lumps Found During Physical

During the exam, her doctor noticed the lumps. Bizzy was in the final months of breastfeeding, and they assumed the lumps were due to the frequent bouts of mastitis she faced while breastfeeding her youngest child.

The doctor cleared Bizzy to compete, and she and Sunny finished seventh in the competition. “But the fact we had found those lumps was in the back of my mind the entire time we were filming,” Bizzy said. “That physical is what made me get the ball rolling when I got home. The lumps were still there, and I hadn’t breastfed for months.”

Struggling for Answers: The Long Road to Diagnosis

A woman wearing a firefighter helmet and a pink tank top stands with her arms crossed. She has a pink ribbon painted on her cheek, symbolizing breast cancer awareness. People in similar pink attire can be seen in the background, participating in an event.

After discussing her concerns with her OB/GYN, she was referred to a high-risk clinic, where she was told that at 36, she was too young for a mammogram. Instead, doctors decided to do a breast ultrasound, which was negative for breast cancer. She was instructed to return in six months for a second ultrasound, but Bizzy was determined to get answers.

“I was finally given a mammogram in addition to the second ultrasound, and both came back clear,” she said. “At that point, I didn’t care whether it was cancer. The lumps were uncomfortable, and I wanted them gone.”

After a surgeon denied surgery to remove the lumps, Bizzy felt she was at the end of the road. Then, her breast began leaking. “At first, I thought it must mean that the lumps were cysts that were finally draining, but the discharge continued. I went back to the high-risk clinic, and they finally decided to move forward with a breast MRI.”

Receiving the Diagnosis: Facing Breast Cancer Head-On

Within an hour of getting the MRI, she received a call. “They told me they were almost positive it was cancer, and they needed me to come in the following week for a biopsy. This was at 4 p.m. on a Friday, so I had the entire weekend ahead of me to worry,” she said. The biopsy confirmed what Bizzy had feared all along: she had breast cancer.

“I remember asking the doctor why it took so many different tests to confirm the diagnosis, and I was shocked when they told me that mammograms and ultrasounds don’t always detect breast cancer if the person has dense breasts.”

Bizzy Smith

“I remember asking the doctor why it took so many different tests to confirm the diagnosis, and I was shocked when they told me that mammograms and ultrasounds don’t always detect breast cancer if the person has dense breasts,” she said. “I had no idea. Learning this lit a fire in me to do whatever I can to educate women on the importance of fighting for yourself and getting the tests you need when something isn’t right.”

Bizzy’s official diagnosis was stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ. “It was an early stage, but there was a lot of cancer in the breast,” she said. “And one of my lymph nodes was really swollen. They biopsied it twice, and thankfully, the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes.”

Treatment Journey: The Physical Toll of Radiation

Bizzy underwent a double mastectomy in October 2023 and had radiation treatment from December until January of 2024. Her surgery recovery went smoothly, but she struggled with radiation.

“I’m a fitness nut and I look forward to working out every day, but the radiation just crushed me,” she said. “It drained the energy right out of me.”

Empowerment through Advocacy: Bizzy’s Role in the Southeast Wisconsin MORE THAN PINK Walk

Her breast reconstruction is scheduled for September 12, 2024, 10 days before she will serve as the honorary chair for the Southeast Wisconsin MORE THAN PINK Walk alongside other people who are passionate about ending breast cancer.

“Seeing it now through the eyes of someone who has been through breast cancer is going to be completely different,” she said. “It’s not about weakness. There are people around you who have a similar story, and it is so incredibly empowering. It means so much to me to be with other people who are surviving and thriving.”

With more than 50 events across the U.S. – including the virtual MORE THAN PINK Walk Where You Are – there is sure to be an event near you. To find a local MORE THAN PINK Walk or Race for the Cure event near you, visit

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.