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Stage II cancer was diagnosed in my left breast in October of 2002. After three months of preoperative chemotherapy, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy, thinking that would prevent worry about getting cancer in my other breast. However Yesterday I received the news that a lump on my mastectomy scar is indeed cancer. I don't know what is in store for me, but I figure if I beat it once I can beat it again.

Whatever the outcome, I am grateful for these last seven years. I've tried to live my life with appreciation and mindfulness. It is not what we are dealt in life that makes us happy or miserable, it is how we play those cards. I can't say I've been given a very good hand: my husband had a stroke three months ago, as with many other families out there, our economic future is uncertain, and difficult situations seem to pile up on us constantly. However, my life is full of richness: my wonderful family, friends, the pets we have had the honor of sharing our lives with, the world I get to commune with everyday just by walking out my door. I focus on the time I spend with my husband rather than think of everything else I need to do. I enjoy spending time with my children and give them credit for growing up into such wonderful adults. I let the antics of my four legged children entertain me rather than get annoyed at the mess they make.

Most important, I have learned that by giving of myself, by doing small acts of kindness, compassion and respect, I build my own strength. This strength will aid my new fight against cancer and sustain my appreciation for each day I am able to fight it!

Jacksonville, NC

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