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We’ve all heard about cancer, but none of us ever thinks it will happen to us. My world as I knew it changed on March 8, 2017.

When I was first diagnosed, I thought about how private or open I wanted to be with my story. My personality is not particularly quiet, and I knew that being quiet with my story would not reflect who I am as a person, and I wanted to stay true to myself. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other women with their journey, because I have found so much peace in learning from others who have walked this path before me.

Sarah goofs around with her son, Tyler, in their backyard.

I’ve been told that I am handling this diagnosis with grace and positivity, but that is my only true option. The alternative of feeling sorry for myself and blaming fate won’t get me very far. Don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days. I cry, I have pity parties, I feel hopeless. Sometimes my tears quietly stream down my face and I attempt to hide them from everyone else in the room and wonder if I am indeed strong enough to beat this. Then I get back up, because that’s what we do. I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.

Sarah receives chemotherapy at New England Cancer Specialists in Scarborough through a port in her chest.

I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for, even when living with this disease. Cancer took so much from me: my health, my hair, my sleep, my running, my ability to be the mom and wife that I want to be. But if I focus on that, then I’m going to have a tough path to walk. I need to remember that cancer did not take my identity.

Cancer has also given me a lot. It’s given me faith in humanity and my community, it’s made my existing relationships stronger and brought me new friends. It’s given me a new perspective on life and helped me realize what it is that really matters. And for that I must be grateful.

Sarah Emerson is 33 and lives in Westbrook. She is a wife, mother and professional who loves running, french fries and kicking the crap out of cancer.

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