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Best of Cancerwise 2011: Surviving Cancer

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Cancer isn't the terminal sentence that it used to be. According to the American Cancer Society, this decline started in 1991 for men and in 1992 for women. Since that time, death rates have fallen 21% among men and 12% among women.

Lower death rates mean more cancer survivors. Below are the most remarkable stories from cancer survivors that we posted in 2011. These stories about life on the other side of cancer will change the way you think about the diagnosis of cancer.

Shelbyrobin2011.jpgWhat Cancer Has Taught Me
Last summer, I was a professional student nurse extern at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. I must say it was strange to work in the same halls of the pediatric floor where I learned to walk again, and work with some of the same nurses who took care of me when I was sick.

I remember going into a patient's room to change an IV dressing and realized it was that same room where I was diagnosed and this whole journey began.

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AngelaGass2011.jpgReclaiming Her Life: A Cancer Survivor Faces Body Image Issues
"At one point in my therapy, I came to a very big conclusion -- cancer had taken enough from me," Angela Gass says.

Now 36, she has spent 12 years fighting cancer, which claimed one-third of her tongue and three-fourths of her jaw, leading to body image issues.

"It had taken my ability to eat, speak clearly and be confident about my appearance," Gass says. "I decided that I wasn't going to let it take anything else. Instead of focusing on the things that I had lost, I put my energy into all the things that I am: a wife, mother, woman and survivor."

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JEnnifer2011.jpgWoman Beats Rare Form of Cervical Cancer With Help of Faith and Family
"They are the reason I got out of bed every morning," she says. "They are the reason I stayed upbeat -- if only in their presence -- and they are the reason I pushed forward."

As an involved member of a cancer support group, Jennifer Dunmoyer advises all cancer patients to stay positive.

"Never give up hope," she says. "Miracles happen every day, no matter the stage, no matter the metastasis. There are survivors. There are educated and experienced doctors, and there is support."

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