PASADENA (CBS) — Patricia Bunin, a well-known figure in the Pasadena community, is a breast cancer survivor who’s using her second chance at life to help other women battling the disease.

As “Senior Moments” columnist for the Pasadena Star News she dispenses advice on all things geriatric.

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She’s also spent more than a decade writing about her struggle with breast cancer and her survival. The wife, mother and grandmother was diagnosed in 1998 and, 13 years later, Bunin is still cancer-free.

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“I chose to celebrate the day of my mastectomy because that was the beginning of my getting better,” Bunin said.

Every anniversary, the 68-year-old puts on the same dress she wore right after her surgery and heads to USC Norris Cancer Hospital for her annual check-up with the same oncologist who was there from the start.

She also carries on the tradition of donating to breast cancer research and celebrating her mastectomy with family, friends and her husband of 23 years.

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“I was never alone from the time I got diagnosed all the way through my treatments,” said Bunin, adding, “It adds meaning to life to be involved with people during a time that is tough and to know they got you through it.

“I got this gift of extra years and I am giving back, paying it forward.”

Bunin has shared some insight on her journey in her column and on her website BreastBuddy.net. It’s a free and anonymous support network to help women and families battling breast cancer.

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“If you’re lying there in the middle of the night and you need someone to talk to get on the computer and I will be there.”

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Bunin said she uses the network to connect with those hurting and poss on the positive healing that lifted her during those darkest moments.