BY MARY MITCHELL
To my dear readers:
Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for your prayers, messages of encouragement, flowers and cards.
As expected, I faced my fight against breast cancer with the unswerving love and devotion of my family and friends.
But I also had the support of strangers, many of whom shared comforting expressions of faith and hope.
Some of these supporters were fans. Some were critics. All who reached out shared their belief that I could conquer the crippling fear of a cancer diagnosis.
On Wednesday, I got good news from Dr. Andrea Madrigrano, the surgeon who performed the first phase of my treatment: my cancer is gone.
Her words affirmed two beliefs that I clung to during the period between my diagnosis and my treatment: that God is still a healer, and that early detection of breast cancer is still the key to saving a woman's life.
There are many steps that I took on this journey that I will no doubt share in the future.
But today I want to thank God for hearing my prayers and the prayers of the people who lifted me up during church services and in private devotions.
I am grateful for my doctors, including Dr. Sami Bittar, the noted plastic surgeon, for being the healing hands God is using to restore me to good health.
While I thank the entire staff at Rush University Medical Center for the care they gave me after my surgery, I would be remiss if I didn't publicly thank Lori Blakey, R.N., a part-time nurse at the hospital.
Despite having a husband who is preparing to be a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, and the mother of four, Blakey brought a boundless energy and consistent compassion to my bedside, putting me on the path to a speedy recovery.
She went out of her way to be of comfort and to make me smile.
I am especially grateful that she was extremely patient when it came to showing my sisters how to care for me after I was released.
You didn't have to wonder whether or not Blakey liked her job. Her positive energy was the light that led us out of the dark tunnel from diagnosis to recovery.
Blakey's approach to her profession reminded me that when we pull together and give our best to an endeavor, there is nothing that can defeat us -- even a cancer diagnosis.
Today, I thank God for the mercy and his grace he has shown me and my family.
After a period of healing, I expect to be back at the paper doing the work that I love.