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My breast cancer story cannot be told without also sharing my granddaughter's story. I was diagnosed with stage 1b (HER2 positive) breast cancer in January 2013. My family gathered to celebrate the results of my pathology report following my second lumpectomy which showed I had clear margins and no lymph node involvement, we were ecstatic. But the joy was short lived when two days later my youngest granddaughter was diagnosed with stage 4 Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer) which had metastasized to her lungs at only 17 months old. The tumor inside her liver was the size of a football. Suddenly my cancer felt like I had merely fallen and scraped my knee. My granddaughter became my inspiration and showed me what a real hero looks like. There could be no pity parties or complaints about the side effects of receiving chemo every three weeks when I watched her receive it every week and then go inpatient for the really serious chemo every three weeks. I never complained about my neuropathy when I watched my granddaughter holding the hospital wall and limping without complaint on her way to the Ronald MacDonald room to play. And I never complained about my loss of hair when she lost her beautiful red hair ahead of mine. She had no fear, she didn't even know that this was not the way life is supposed to be! She underwent two six hour surgeries, one to remove 60% of her liver and her gall bladder (the cancer had spread there too) and the other for a biliary reconstruction to repair a bile leak. After ten days in intensive care and a week at home she could squat to her heels and stand back up like every other toddler. She underwent a second regimen of chemo, more intense than the first, and the spots on her lungs vanished. She had a 100% chance of losing some or all of her hearing from the chemo and she lost none. My granddaughter showed me how to not just be a Survivor but also a Thriver.....you can do it too!

Cheryl C.
Albany, NY

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