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A Voice of Houston

October 20, 2013 8:26:50 PM PDT

By Sonia Azad HOUSTON -A local breast cancer survivor turned her experience into a way to help others. Venita Graves loves styling hair, and she loves being alive and able to share her talent.

"I was doing my self-exam and I found a lump," Graves said.

It was that lump that changed Graves' life forever.

The salon and boutique owner was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and was forced to undergo surgeries and seven months of chemotherapy. "With the chemotherapy,

I lost all my hair, and I'm a hair stylist," she said. "But when all my hair started falling out; whoa, that became a big heartache for me. "The entrepreneur turned her heartache into an idea. In 2010, she launched "Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer" -- an organization that provides makeovers for cancer survivors and wigs to women who lose their hair during chemo and radiation. "She's a beautiful person," friend Tonja Thompson said of Graves. "She's an inspiration to all of us and to survivors everywhere.""I thank her," friend Tawanda Usher said. "Because of her, I got checked last year. "Now in remission, Graves tells all of her friends and clients to regularly visit their doctors and conduct self-exams. "Life can change in an instant, that I have learned," she said.

She's looking forward to 50 more years cancer-free, she said. For her friends, it will mean a lifetime of great hair and exceptional friendship. "Live, love, laugh, lean on the Lord, enjoy your life," Graves said. "Enjoy every day." ​

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