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Kristen C :

Picture from Kristen C

At 38 years old, a routine CT scan for kidney stones revealed a tumor in my lung. Nine months later and after a second opinion, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. As an otherwise young, healthy, never-smoker, I was in complete shock. With a husband and two young children, I was fearful for what lay ahead for my family. Like so many other women, lung cancer was not on my radar.

Following a lobectomy in 2013, I became a survivor and lung cancer advocate. I now spend my days as a LUNG FORCE Hero, working to share my voice to bring awareness and change. Cancer has definitely changed me, but in many ways for the better. "Just Breathe" has become my motto. I am so thankful for every breath that I take. After my surgery, breathing was painful and difficult. I had never really thought about the act of breathing. I had to become mindful of my own breathing to get me through each day. I built up my strength and began running again, as I had enjoyed doing prior to my diagnosis. Thirteen weeks after surgery, I completed another half-marathon, but this time as a survivor. In January of 2016, I completed my first marathon. Through every step of the 26.2 miles, my breathing reminded me of my journey.

My faith and my family keep me strong. As a survivor, my goal is to show others, especially my children, that you cannot give up when faced with adversity. Each obstacle in life is an opportunity to grow, and every single day is a gift. Now when faced with any challenge, I simply remind myself to"just breathe."

First Published: 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM

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