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Me and the Girls: Diane Morgan

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"A breast is not a vital organ. You can live without it."

Consoling her friends: Morgan's friends tried to offer support. But their attempts sometimes went awry. Some cried, others blurted out about people they knew who'd died of breast cancer.  And sometimes, Morgan would have to turn the tables and comfort them.

"I'd be cheering them up, saying, 'I don't feel that bad yet. I don't think I'm dying here,'" Morgan says. "People mean so well. These are dear friends I've known for decades... but they were just fouling up."

Her advice to people who have a loved one going through breast cancer: "Call them up and be cheerful," Morgan says. "The person going through this thing wants to talk about something else. You want to be able to have some positive things and you want a break from the stress of the whole thing. So let the conversation go where it may."

Some of the cards she received didn't go over well.

"I didn't appreciate getting a lot of prayerful, serious illness cards. If it was my choice, I'd tell Hallmark to dump all those," Morgan says. "I'd say, 'Draw me a happy face on a piece of paper and send it to me. But don't send me, 'We're praying for you and may God be with you and all that kind of stuff, because that just supported the thought that I was in really big trouble and I was going to die. I was thinking positive."

New lease on life: "My theory is the doctors at Sylvester gave me an extension on my life, and I want to make the most of it," Morgan says.

Now retired, she lives in a seniors' community in Santa Rosa, Calif., near her two sisters. She's spent most of her life in the area, before moving to the Miami area in her 50s to work in the hotel industry.

Morgan says she has a "nice social life" in her community and recently attended the beach wedding of a friend's son. "These are good days that I wouldn't have had," Morgan says. "Any day without a doctor's appointment, I figure, is a good day. This is a day I could enjoy. This is my day. You learn to take it one day at a time," Morgan says. "This is a gift of life."

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Reviewed on September 18, 2009

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