To mark Breast Cancer Awareness month, breast cancer thriver, Amber Marchese, has shared her story with us. An actress, writer, philanthropist, Splendid Spoon Ambassador, and, most importantly, mom, Amber has twice been diagnosed with breast cancer. Today she shares her experience, and how it’s taught her to embrace life’s journey.

Splendid Spoon: Hi Amber! As a mother of four, how did your cancer diagnoses change your relationship with your family?

Amber Marchese: The first time around my children were very young. Going through breast cancer while trying to enjoy raising babies was emotionally and physically difficult. If I think about how much cancer robbed me of new motherhood experience I get really sad and angry. So instead, I focus on everything I learned from it, and embrace it as my journey.

At the second diagnosis I was very nervous because a recurrence isn’t normally a good prognosis. Thankfully, it was early stage again. This drove me to tackle it as hard as I could, and be done with it.

SS: Has your fight against cancer changed your sense of self-love?

AM: Yes. I never take life or family for granted. Each moment is a gift and I approach life with a sense of humility.

SS: How do you use your experience to educate other women about breast cancer?

AM: I’ve become a motivational speaker on breast cancer. I share my story at public events, whether it’s in front of 30 or 500 people: everyone needs to be educated. I was recently honored at the American Cancer Society and helped raise over $500,000. It was an amazing evening.

I also shared my story as a writer for People. I chronicled my entire experience with the second round of breast cancer there.

I’ll speak to anyone who has a question. I take the time out of my day or night to do this because I truly love people, and if there is a way I can help, I will.

SS: What actions can we take to help fight and educate about breast cancer?

AM: We need a cure. Period. We can’t lose one more mother, grandmother, sister, or daughter to this awful disease. It’s so important to find an organization that donates to research and support them as much as possible.

SS: Has your lifestyle and diet changed since your first diagnosis?

AM: Yes. I’m quite obsessive in my research so I have an extensive anti-cancer regimen. I eat healthfully and work out five days a week. I stay away from processed foods, I have my own garden, and I eat a lot of raw foods. I love Splendid Spoon so much because it keeps me on track and I know I am getting proper nutrition.

SS: How has surviving cancer altered your outlook on life?

AM: I’ve realized how mentally strong we are. Our minds can ebb and flow with positive and negative thoughts every second of the day. If we tune into our negative thoughts then the world becomes challenging, even unbearable. However, if you make a conscious effort to see the world in a beautiful, positive manner, then we can mold the world to be a happy place.

I focus on having positive thoughts about my body. I focus on believing in how healthy it is, right down to a cellular level. When I wake up in the morning, I pray, walk outside, smile at the sun, and give gratitude for everything I have. I hug a tree — no lie — I literally hug a tree. I feed off the energy of the world. It heals me every day.

SS: Is there one thing you wish everyone knew about your experience with cancer?

AM: I wish everyone knew that I’m fine now. I’m not afraid of anything in life because no matter what, it’s part of my journey, and I’m proud to walk that journey. I don’t fear death, which took a lot of the fear out of life. Birth is beautiful, so is death, and so is everything in between. It should all be adored and loved.