Relay for Life of Houston County kicked off its 2018 fundraising efforts Tuesday night.

Rachel Ferraris delivered the keynote address on the importance of courage, something she had to learn firsthand.

One moment in 2006 changed Rachel Ferraris' life forever.

"We were at the boardwalk waiting for the phone call and we got the call. At the time, the doctors thought that we caught it early and they said, 'If you have to have it, it's the best kind of cancer to have,'" says Ferraris.

But that prognosis didn't last.

"What we thought was caught early ended up being stage three, very close to stage four," says Ferraris.

What followed was, "Instead of having a battle, we actually had a war," says Ferraris.

And that treatment? It was war.

"The first three years of my treatment were very, very hard on my family. From twenty surgeries in 3 years, chemotherapy, radiation, complications that are not textbook," says Ferraris.

She says it was those around her who helped her through that fight.

"One night, I spiked a fever and couldn't control one side of my body. I called my friend and said, 'We're going to the emergency room, can we drop the boys off at your house?' And her response was, 'No, we're on our way to your house,'" says Ferraris.

And after a long struggle, she can now say, "I am an 11-year breast cancer survivor."

Now, she wants to be a source of inspiration to others.

"Courage," she says. "That's my word."

When Ferraris was sick, she leaned on her friends. Now, she's the one helping others in their fights.

After all, it's a war, not a battle.

Ferraris is now an advocate for increased cancer research funding.

Houston County Relay for Life will be holding their relay this year on May 4th. Money raised will go toward cancer research and patient services.