Topless woman walks from Mississippi to D.C. to raise awareness

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) —  A woman is walking many miles to call attention to breast cancer.

“If you beat cancer and you survive, everything else is a cake walk,” Paulette Leaphart told 8News Reporter Tracey Smith.

One hundred miles is far from a cake walk, but for Leaphart, walking from Mississippi to Washington D.C. is just a small part of her journey.

“I’m taking back what cancer stole from me,” she said.

A breast cancer survivor herself, she’s walking topless to erase the world’s definition of beauty.

“I want women to understand that they are still alive and our breasts are just tissue that hang off our chest,” Leaphart said. “That’s not our womanhood, that’s not our femininity.”

She hopes to provide inspiration to other survivors.

“I want to take the shame away,” Leaphart explained. “I want them to know ‘hey embrace your scars.'”

“I’m taking back what cancer stole from me.” — Paulette Leaphart

Survivors like Sheron Poole have been following Leaphart’s story online.

“I’ve been praying since the 1st of May for Paulette because she has inspired me to not be ashamed,” Poole said.

On Tuesday, Leaphart took the time from her walk to join Poole at the doctors to get the results of her most recent tests. Poole just found out Tuesday her cancer is back.

“She has really shown me how not to be afraid,” Poole said of Leaphart.

With so many people inspired by her journey, the question is: Why stop in D.C.?

“No one should lose their homes, their lives because of the inability to finance treatments,” Leaphart said.

She said she’s tired of the country’s healthcare system taking advantage of critically ill patients.

“I had to choose between, do I pay for a roof over our head or do I pay to save my life?” she explained.

Leaphart said when she makes it to D.C. there are lawmakers who have already said they are willing to listen.

“In order to get a change we got to fight for it,” said Leaphart.Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

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