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Cancer Survivors

Melanie Liesener

Melanie Liesener discovered that her relationship with her husband, Jay, became stronger when she battled cancer. For the first time in her adult life, she had a caregiver.

"I had never been in a position to be taken care of," she recalls. "It was hard, but Jay already knew that."

Jay, a trained rehabilitation counselor, is in a wheelchair. During their five-year marriage, Melanie has helped him when he needed help. And then when she was diagnosed with stage II ovarian cancer at 33 years of age, he was there for her.

"My mother came down from Newark for the treatment to provide comfort like only a mother can and to help with the things that Jay couldn't," she says. "It's strange that something as horrible as cancer can do good, but it did. It has brought my family closer together."

By March 2008, Melanie was back teaching special education children at the Sussex Consortium. "It's my calling," she says. But cancer also taught her to enjoy every day. "We live in a beautiful place, and so I've learned to take advantage of the surroundings and enjoy my family. That's what life is all about."

Read stories from other survivors