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Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love and Life by Margie Warrell

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—Chapter 36—

Mona and I became friends in 2002, about eight months after I had moved to the United States from Australia. We each had three young children and before too long we were both expecting a fourth. While we were both busy, Mona always gave me a reality check, recalibrating what it meant to be busy. While I was studying psychology part-time, she was a vice president at the American Heart Association. Needless to say, she was my version of a Superwoman (and still is!).

Six years after we met, Mona noticed a sore on her breast. She checked it with doctors but a full six months passed until she was finally given a diagnosis. Breast cancer … stage 3 … highly aggressive. A diagnosis no woman ever wants to hear, yet which too many do. The prognosis was not good. In the months that followed, Mona underwent a potent cocktail of chemotherapy drugs, dual mastectomy, radiation, reconstruction and then a full hysterectomy. The doctors were pleased with her response, but the following year, the cancer was back, now with a stage-4 diagnosis. More surgery, more chemo, more radiation. Only those who have endured it, or witnessed someone who has, can know how debilitating it can be. However less than a year after being given another clean bill of health, Mona collapsed near her home while out for a walk. An MRI found 15 tumors in her brain. More radiation, Gamma Knife surgery, more ...

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