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Linda Tulino is a one-year cancer survivor. She is proud of reaching this benchmark, and has every intention of being a two-year, three-year and ten-year survivor. "It's all about your attitude," she remarks.
She remembers finding out that she had cancer. Her daughter was with her, and Tulino saw the tumor on the ultrasound. That moment, she says, was the hardest part. She knew she was about to hear that word that everyone dreads: "Cancer." "When you hear it," she remembers, "it's trauma. All you can do is be strong, go forward."
That is the attitude Tulino carried with her through her treatment for breast cancer. She had surgery, radiation and chemotherapy at the Lifespan Cancer Institute. She believes that her positive attitude made all the difference. Without it, she wouldn't have been able to cope with the difficult treatment, with losing her hair, with the sickness and fatigue that often washed over her. But she was determined, and she let nothing wear her down.
The support of the doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers at the center was also integral to her successful treatment. "I have nothing but great things to say," she repeats whenever she's asked about her experience. "They are all such good people." She remembers volunteers stopping by to see if she needed something-anything-crackers, some juice. They just wanted to make sure she was comfortable. There were the nurses who were not assigned to her treatment who stopped in to see how she was feeling. The doctors who didn't treat her offered words of encouragement and guidance.
In the end, Tulino's positive attitude and the compassionate and skilled treatment of her doctors and nurses allowed her to become a proud breast cancer survivor. Has cancer changed her? "No," she answers thoughtfully. She is still the same, still fun-loving, still a devoted wife, mom and grandmother, still hardworking, still a woman who enjoys parties and her friends. The reason she was so determined, so sure that she would beat cancer, was that she wanted to keep on living the wonderful life she had. And now, after the radiation and chemotherapy have stopped, she can do just that. For that, she is grateful. "I am one of the lucky ones," she says. And what now? "I am going to enjoy every single day of my life."