"Julie's Rack Pack" races for a cure

Julie Ryan shows off a "Julie's Rack Pack" shirt.

Julie Ryan, of Columbia, first felt the lump in her breast during a self examination two years ago. She was told it was normal and nothing to worry about.

"I kept track of it and noticed changes and that's when I got a hold of a surgeon over the summer. I went in this past July and was officially diagnosed with stage two breast cancer," Ryan said.

Ryan said even before she received the official diagnosis, she knew in her heart that the lump was cancerous.

She told close friends and family so they could be prepared for what's to come.

Right now, Ryan is undergoing chemo and radiation. She has already had a double mastectomy.

Ryan's friend Stacia Coughenour was shocked to learn of the diagnosis.

"I needed to do something immediately. I can't fight the fight for her, but I can help her get through this fight. And it was a matter of days before I had a huge team organized to help her through this," Coughenour said.

That was the beginning of "Julie's Rack Pack," a team of over 70 members walking in Saturday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Columbia.

So far, they've raised nearly $5,000 and say the donations continue rolling in.

Ryan said the support is overwhelming, and it is because of her friends and family that she is able to stay upbeat.

She has also learned a lesson through her journey that she wants to share with other women.

"It doesn't matter what an imaging study says, it doesn't matter what a doctor tells you, it doesn't matter if you don't have a family history for something. You need to trust your body and trust your instincts to know when something isn't right...and to keep pushing to make sure that you find out if there is something wrong."