& her Friend, Sara Saunders
?In 2006, my friend Sara Saunders, a 47-year-old mother of two teenage boys, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Sara and I had been through much during our 28 years of friendship. We married and celebrated the births of our children and shared the sorrow of the deaths of our infant daughters. We laughed together, and chatted about anything and everything.
We hoped to have more years of the same until the day she called to tell me she might have pneumonia. When I arrived at the hospital, the diagnosis went from bad to worse. We talked about lung cancer, a disease that also had taken her mother, a former smoker. It was hard to fathom that a healthy woman, a lifelong nonsmoker, had fallen victim to this killer. But cancer knows no boundaries. During her nine-month battle with a disease that ravaged and finally overtook her, Sara fought with a dignity, grace and faith that continue to astound me. Her friendship was one of the most amazing gifts of my life. Her legacy to me is her example of unwavering trust in God, love of others, and resilient spirit. It is in her memory that I continue this fight against lung cancer.
During her illness, Sara wanted to join the fight in some way. An online search led me to “Women Against Lung Cancer,” (now the Lung Cancer Initiative) where I purchased lung cancer pins for myself, Sara, her family and friends. We talked about volunteering with this organization to make a difference. She did not have the time to do so.
Following Sara’s death, I joined this organization to honor her memory and volunteer on her behalf. Her family and friends also founded “Sara’s Team,” to run in the Raleigh 5K to support lung cancer research and awareness.
As part of this group, I have been blessed to work with some talented and passionate individuals who have joined efforts to beat the number one cancer killer. I have no doubt that these efforts will bring about change and reduce deaths from a disease that has taken Sara and so many others!
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