This Woman Is Walking Topless for 1,000 Miles to Put an End to Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million people in the United States alone get cancer each year, and despite continued studies and tireless research, there is still no cure.

Paulette Leaphart, a breast cancer survivor and mother to four adopted and four biological children, wants to change this. And in an effort to do so, she is baring her scars and walking from her small hometown of Biloxi, Miss., to Washington, D.C. — a 1,000-mile trek that she plans to complete on July 9, just after her 50th birthday.

Following her double mastectomy and being unable to go through reconstruction due to other health complications, Leaphart went to the beach with her daughters, choosing to wear a t-shirt to hide her scars.

"At first, people were shocked," she tells People of having decided to take off her shirt, "A large group of people started to crowd around me... Then one woman started to cry. Then everyone started to cry and everyone burst into applause, congratulating and thanking me."

Feeling empowered, Leaphart took to Facebook where she received an outpouring of support that eventually led to her appearance in Beyoncé's "Lemonade" video special.

Her story is currently being featured in "Scar Story," a documentary that will follow her on her journey in the hopes of spreading the #NoShame movement, and empowering women to tell their own scar stories.

"All of us have scars. If they're not physical scars, they're emotional scars... We're afraid to expose those scars because we're afraid of what people might say, how they'll judge us. I want to put an end to that," Leaphart says in the "Scar Story" teaser video, "They're our story of survival."

NEXT: Meet 5 Breast Cancer Survivors Helping Other Women Fight the Disease »

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Photo Credit: Instagram/Paulette Leaphart