TARBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – When you meet Stephanie Walker – you may notice her humor and compassion.

But even those closest to her don’t always know what is really going on.

“I know she gets tired. I see it. I hear it in her voice. I see it in her eyes. But if you’re not with her, you don’t know that – because she’s never going to let you know she’s tired,” said Stephanie’s husband, John Walker.

This remarkable woman said nursing was her calling but when the tables turned — and she became the patient— that’s when her true strength was tested.

“I have breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer. It’s going to kill me. I can’t give it back so I may as well learn to live with it,” Stephanie Walker said.

John Walker said his wife was scared the cancer would happen so quickly that she wouldn’t see her grandson be born. That grandchild is now 4.

Through treatments, surgeries and medications — she continued to work

“It’s almost like having to face your mortality every day,” Stephanie Walker said.

Eventually, doctors gave Stephanie Walker news that she said was worse than her diagnosis.

“I took me ‘not having to work’ – it was harder emotionally than getting the call that I had breast cancer,” she said.

But she fought.

“And she’s never stopped,” John Walker said. “She’s a heck of a woman.”

This all helped her find her new mission – to advocate for others fighting breast cancer.

And to help people in underserved communities access quality medical care.

“The Lord’s closed that door, but he’s opened another opportunity and I’m gonna help people,” Walker’s husband tells us of his wife.

Stephanie Walker and Renee Clark worked together many years ago and both ended up in North Carolina – right when they needed each other most.

“I just went through a diagnosis of breast cancer in August 2019,” Clark said.

Clark tells us Stephanie Walker has been there for her since her diagnosis.

“She was there for my surgery. She’s been there for the radiation. All the time knowing what she’s going through,” Clark tells us.

Since Stephanie Walker’s diagnosis, her focus has been on the quality of her life and making memories.

“I read something this weekend – when you’re born, you’re born with two dates and a dash. What you need to do is make the most of the dash,” Stephanie Walker said.