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I’m sure I’ve read a thousand breast cancer stories by now. Each one sheds new light on some part of the journey giving us, as breast cancer survivors, something to hope for. Hope is the best medicine of all, I’ve found.

On June 17, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 1, ductal carcinoma, triple-negative breast cancer. I was only 42 years old. I had just gone through the worst possible event in a mother’s life when I lost my infant son to leukemia. How could this be happening? The hardest part for me was finding the words to tell my children that their mother had cancer. I could see the fear fill their eyes. They certainly knew the probabilities. They had already seen it first hand with their brother.

I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy and an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. Those six months of treatment were taxing. I can’t say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done nor was it as bad as I had expected.

At this point, I am over six years post diagnosis. I am doing well. I have to work at keeping the fear of recurrence at bay. I volunteer some of my time to help other newly diagnosed women begin to navigate the journey. I try to stay positive and enjoy my life as a thriving survivor. I do not waste my time on the negative in the world but instead use each of my days as gifts. These events have taught me that there is so much good in this world, we just have to look for it. Sometimes its buried under so much negative that its hard to see…but it is there.

This year, I lost an aunt to the same dreaded disease. She was my mentor, my friend and a strong woman who I loved dearly. Her death hit me pretty hard. I pray for a day when cancers of all types are eradicated from our population; a time when children and aunts can live without the threat of such an unfair disease. I long for a cure.

Lori Lee
Smithfield, NC

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