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I am a 2 time breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed the first time in 2003. At that time, I had a lumpectomy with radiation treatments. Every day after was one step closer to that magic 5 year mark that would mean I was considered cured.

But, in 2006 I was diagnosed a second time, and I decided I wasn't going to go through that again. So I had bilateral mastectomies. I went through reconstruction surgery, and had breast implants inserted. Then four months later I developed a staph infection and had to have the implants removed.

I got some prosthesis, but I don't wear them much. I discovered I don't mind not having breasts. I'm still me, and I'm happy to still be around.

When you hear the word cancer, it seems as if your life comes to a screeching halt. You don't know what to do or which way to go. The fear is overwhelming. You're frozen in that one single moment. Eventually you will move past that moment. How and when depends on you. For awhile you will live there and wallow in self pity and fear, and that's ok, because you need that time. And you can choose to stay there and live there, or you can choose to move forward and live your life.

A friend encouraged me to write my story after my surgery, and as a result I wrote and published a book. Writing helped me to deal with my fear, and I discovered a strength I didn't know I had. Life goes on, and I hope it's going to be a long one.

Sherry Wheeler
Huntsville, AL

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