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PUBLISHED: 5:04 PM on Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Survivor uses diagnosis as inspiration
"Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips" Part 7
After learning she had a rare, incurable stage IV cancer, Superbowl "Bud Girl" Kriss Carr enlisted the help of other cancer survivors. They agreed to tell their stories about dealing with the disease.

Below is the story of Allison Briggs.

This is part 7 of a 10-part series on the book, "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips."

Allison:

"When my doctor gave me the news of my breast cancer diagnosis and told me I have Stage II infiltrating ductal carcinoma, all I could think was, 'What does that mean?'

A member of the Cancer Posse

Name: Allison Briggs

Age: 27 (diagnosed at 26)

Hair color: Blond

Eyes: Hazel

Height: 5'7"

Weight: 110

Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Occupation: Real estate sales

Favorite saying: "What you think about, you bring about."

Best tip: Try to free your mind of attachments, expectations, and fear. Remember that it's the unexpected challenges that deliver us to better things.

"I knew she was telling me I had cancer, but I had never known anyone with cancer before. All I could think was, What is going to happy to my life? Will I have to quit my job? Will I have to move out of my house? I had no idea what cancer treatment entailed or what it would do to me physically.

"The next day I met with my doctor again. I told her that I wanted to keep my life as intact as possible. I was hoping she would allow me to continue to work during my treatments. Well, this was completely out of the question (and as soon as I began chemo I learned why!).

"She told me that she would highly recommend that I take nine months off of work; I might even want to take a full year. That was a shock! She told me that I would be in chemo for three months, and it would leave me feeling tired and flu-like (as well as hairless). Then I would be having a bilateral mastectomy, which would require a stay in the hospital followed by a few weeks' recoup time, then I would most likely begin radiation treatment, which would last another two months and also make me very tired. Following the radiation I would finish my reconstructive surgery. She advised that I look into state disability leave.

"I was diagnosed on Nov. 30, 2005, and I had some vacation and sick leave accumulated with my employer. I decide to wait for Jan. 1, 2006, to file a claim. Being on disability was great. It took so much stress off an already very stressful situation. I received a check every two weeks, always right on time, and I was lucky that the payments sustained my life (covered my rent, car payment, food, et cetera) and paid all my medical bills. Luckily, I had excellent medical insurance.

"My efforts to pay it forward and help others fight their battles with cancer circled back and provided a supplement to my disability checks. Along with about a dozen close friends, I formed "The Rack Pack." The Rack Pack held various fund-raisers and built a Web site: www.therackpack.org.

"During the course of our efforts, several people mentioned that they would like to contribute directly to my cause. We decided to add a donation button to the site to allow people to help with my medical expenses. We called it the Fight! Alli campaign.

"On top of that, we threw a benefit party for the Fight! Alli cause. Our goal was not to only help with my immediate financial needs, but also to create an ongoing effort to help other young women. We hope to throw another benefit this year and donate the proceeds to other young women who are fighting cancer. The ultimate goal is to make the benefit an annual event."

Reprinted with permission from "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips," published by skirt! Books, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. To purchase this book, go online to skirt.com or a local bookstore.


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