Each radiation treatment didn't take that long, but because of my breast cancer, I had to hold my left arm up over my head. My arm was in a metal holder, but there were still times when it would start to shake involuntarily because of the weakened muscles. Thankfully, everything worked out just fine.

The radiologist and oncologists said I would get tired, and I did. They said I would develop burns, and I did. They said it would be a "piece of cake" after everything else I went through, and they were right. My last day for radiation was Aug. 12, 2008.

After radiation, a "survivor" party celebrated the end of the prescribed regimen and thanked family and friends. It was a wondrous day. The sun shone brightly; there was a slight breeze that made the balloons dance. And, most of all, it was full of loved ones who had made the journey so much more bearable. It was a celebration of laughter, a celebration of hope, a celebration of life!

A few days before the celebration, I received a card in the mail. It was a donation to the cancer foundation in my name from my youngest nieces and nephews, ages 7 to 14. Their moms said the kids wanted to do something with their own money. Again, I tear up at the

thoughtfulness of these youngsters, and realize how very fortunate I am.

To go with our new beginnings, we brought a new puppy into the fold. Her name is Genesis -- Gena for short -- and she is full of life! Some thought I was crazy and, after the first week of chasing her around, I thought I was, too. But, I look into her sweet face and know that it was the right thing for me.

My burns are healing, my energy level is improving, and I'm getting stronger. I'm back to work full-time. My appetite has pretty much returned. My hair is growing back, and my head doesn't hurt. I still have tingling and swelling in my fingers and toes, a side-effect from the chemo, but they say it may still go away with time. My left arm aches and sometimes swells, an effect from the lymph node surgery. With exercise and time, this, too, may go away.

The plan now is to keep an eye on things by having periodic blood work, mammograms, PET/CT scans and doctor's visits. Early detection is vital in defeating this deadly disease. I am one of the lucky ones.

Cancer is a very scary disease, and battling it is no easy task. It summons you to draw on courage you didn't know you had. And one of

the most important ingredients is the support and strength you gather from friends and loved ones. Again, I count myself very privileged. I seriously doubt I would have made it through the past year without their unending love and support. I'm very thankful to be here to write this.

My journey is far from over. But, I know that with my loved ones by my side, I will tackle the bumps -- or craters -- in the road with everything I can muster.

My nieces have already committed to the cancer relay on Mother's Day 2009. I intend to join them.

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