Within a year of retiring from the Air Force in 2003, Corneliussen-James "C.J." was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, joining one-in-eight American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Over the next 22 months, C.J. would undergo cancer treatment, be diagnosed with systemic lupus and, finally, metastatic breast cancer.

Thankfully, in recent decades, the United States has seen remarkable progress in the fight against breast cancer. Around the same time C.J. was diagnosed, the mapping of the human genome ushered in a new era of research aimed at saving lives and stopping cancer. In fact, the death rate for breast cancer alone has declined by 36 percent since the 1980s.