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Cancer is a Definition, not a Declaration

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When Carol Harlig was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, she plastered the cream-colored cabinets in her kitchen with hundreds of get-well cards that she had received.

Every time she walked into her kitchen and saw the cards, she was reminded of the love and prayers people were sending on her behalf. “I felt so blessed to live in this community,” she recalls. “I got phone calls and cards from people I barely knew. They volunteered to read to me, help me with my medication, fly me for a second opinion if I thought I needed one. I even got meals with step-by-step instructions down to ‘Remove the plastic wrap.’

“I would have never had this kind of support had I lived in a big city.”

Talk to most any breast cancer survivor in the Wood River Valley and you’ll find her echoing Harlig’s sentiments.

Sun Valley is not a place to die but rather a place to survive and even thrive.

Much of it is wrapped up in the sense of community right down to friends and acquaintances doing something as simple as collecting money so a woman going through a tough time can have a massage or someone come in and clean her house.

“This community rolls into action when someone is hurting,” says Harlig. “We go and give money to people we don’t even know because they’re going through a rough time. And that’s particularly true for those of us who have been through a rough time ourselves. After you heal, you want to give back.”

A smaller community offers more opportunity for camaraderie, whether it be in a support group or in such activities as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

And Sun Valley is especially fortunate to have Expedition Inspiration, an organization founded by breast cancer survivor Laura Evans to raise funds for breast cancer research while helping women regain their self-esteem after their fight with cancer.

Suzanne Mulenos chose to get beyond her cancer by helping with Expedition Inspiration’s annual symposium, which brings together breast cancer researchers. She has volunteered at the office and co-chaired the annual moonlight snowshoe hike to raise research funds. And she helped start a breast cancer support group.

“The greatest gift I can give the next generation is not to have to worry about breast cancer,” she says. >>>


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