On the fifth anniversary of the day she entered remission, Mai Salem was told her pancreatic cancer had returned.
At first, Mai was devastated. For five years, Mai had provided hope for other pancreatic cancer patients as a volunteer for the Anderson Network, a support group that pairs new patients with survivors who share their same cancer diagnosis. But after her recurrence, she wasn't so sure she could still be a voice of hope.
Over time, though, Mai has come to realize that despite her pancreatic cancer recurrence, the way she continues to live her life remains an inspiration to her fellow patients.
"I enjoy life to the maximum," she says. "That's what I do. I try to enjoy everything I can, when I can."
Mai's pancreatic cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Mai had been experiencing stomach pain for several months, but her local doctor kept dismissing her complaints, telling her it was all the spicy Thai food she ate.
Eventually, she sought a second opinion. Tests showed that Mai had pancreatic cancer -- more specifically, a neuroendocrine tumor that metastasized to her liver.