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Profile: Esther Tatum-Waring

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Esther Tatum-Waring is 60 years old and proud to admit it. A grandmother of two and step-grandmother of seven, she is happily married to the man who is her best friend. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at her local hospital in Brooklyn, her husband suggested they get a second opinion at the world-renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering in Manhattan.

Esther had great confidence in the surgeon she consulted with at Sloan-Kettering and decided to have her surgery done there. Her mastectomy was done in July and it went well.

She started chemo on Friday, September 7th. The following Monday, 8AM sharp, she reported as usual to her secretarial job on the fourteenth floor of the Welfare Department in lower Manhattan, just two blocks from the World Trade Center. Tuesday, September 11th, Esther was at her desk around nine o’clock. A co-worker looked out the window and shouted, "the Trade Center is on fire!" Everyone gathered around the window, and fifteen minutes later they saw the second plane hit the South Tower. Their building shook violently and they were ordered to evacuate. The elevators were shut down, so Esther walked down fourteen floors as fast as she could.

Outside, she joined thousands of other terrified people who were moving towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Most were running, but Esther couldn’t move that fast. In the middle of the bridge she stopped and watched the second tower fall. She said a prayer and kept on walking. She walked for six hours in the smoke, more than five miles, almost all the way to her house, before she could contact her husband to pick her up. The smell was indescribable. Her body ached and so did her heart.

One week later Esther was back at work. The awful smell remained; the view from her window was dramatically changed. Returning to work was an act of courage. Esther is a proud, feisty woman. Neither cancer nor the terrorists will defeat her. Her positive attitude, warmth and great sense of humor endear her to everyone who meets her. We salute Esther-- she makes all of us proud.

Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-ACS-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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