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Photo slideshow: Children are caregivers, inspiration

BY ELIZABETH WHITTINGTON | APRIL 18, 2012

When we asked our readers for photographs of who inspired them through cancer, we received beautiful stories and images about spouses, nurses, doctors and friends (Photo slideshow: Who Inspires You?). We also received submissions from patients and survivors who said that it was their children who inspired them. It's also hard to forget that many times, they also act as caregivers.

Here are a few of the stories and images we received. If you were inspired by your children -- no matter their age, I hope you will share your story, too!

Donna
My daughter traveled back to North Carolina several times during my treatment from Seattle to help and give me positive encouragement. I treasure all the special times we shared during my treatment.
Donna, of Winston-Salem, N.C.

Arla and Kyle
My son, Kyle, stayed by my side throughout my journey with breast cancer. Although he was scared, he was my rock and lifted me in laughter and love. Both of my children, Kyle and Brad, deserve great credit for my being here today. It is their love that inspires me to continue to be the best I can be as a mother and a person.
Arla, of Palm Bay, Fla.



Emily and sons
Abraham Lincoln said, "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." That quote always got my attention, even before I was diagnosed with cancer in 1998. When the boys were little, I always tried to remember not to let the hustle and bustle of each day let me forget to embrace those each moment - although my goal was usually just try to get through the day in one piece. The blink of an eye and my babies are grown! My boys don't really have memories of me without cancer. They were in kindergarten and first grade in 1998. We have been battling my breast cancer off and on for almost 15 years. I know they are the reason I am still here fighting the fight to be their mom. They are my inspiration and always will be who I strive to impress and who I love.
Emily, of Normal, Ill.



Peggy
I underwent a right mastectomy at age 28 while two months pregnant. When I had my first surgery in 1976, I prayed to be able to see my daughter graduate from high school. As that time approached, I got scared--I didn't pray for enough time! She has now graduated and last year got her MBA from Hopkins Business School. I am also a grandmother of a brilliant five-year-old named Aria. I went through hell, but my inspiration was that wonderful baby I was carrying.
Peggy, of Westminster, Md.



Phuong
I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer when I was 29, just a few short months after my wedding. Within the past four years I have had chemo, radiation and surgeries to fight the metastasis. On the days when I wanted to do nothing but pull the covers over my head there was one person who got me up: my daughter, Taylor, my defender. She tracked every single dose of meds in a notebook, kept a close eye on what I ate (or DIDN'T eat) and most importantly, she lived her life. On those days where I needed something to get out of bed, Taylor's soccer games and track meets gave me reason to do so. She always told me that it would be OK for me to miss them, but with such an uncertain future, I needed to be there to see my little girl in action. She is my inspiration, and I couldn't be prouder.
Phuong, of San Rafael, Calif.

serenity
On the toughest days of cancer treatment, the tiny life growing inside of me was all the inspiration I needed to remain strong. Diagnosed with breast cancer just days after learning I was pregnant, my baby girl's strong heartbeat let me know we were in this fight together. On the day that should have been my final round of chemo treatment, I instead gave birth to a beautiful, healthy daughter named Serenity Milagros Shelbon. Serenity arrived to let me know we had won our battle. To learn more about our journey, visit www.team-roxy.com.
Roxanne, of Fort Worth, Texas

Rhonda
As a single mother of three, I don't think many people realize that children are caregivers too. I am so blessed to have three wonderful, supportive children by my side. At the end of each day, my children have my best interest at heart. I am so proud of my three Chick-a-Dees! In this photo, you see my son Jordan, me, my daughter Breanna and Ta'Nia. As a family, we traveled to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., to support Breanna graduating from the High School Bakery and Pastry Summer Program. Breanna wants to be a pastry chef, and I hope to live to see her accomplish her dream. I want to fight the good fight, lead by example and continue to make a positive difference in my children lives. I pray God will grant me the opportunity to support my them into adulthood.
Rhonda, of Odenton, Md.

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