"This past spring, I learned that the cancer had spread to the liver," she said.
But that has not prevented her from fighting every day and recently, she received a special honor. Emerson was named Cancer Survivor of the Year. The award is given by
, the world's largest publication for cancer patients.
Emerson was not chosen because she has been battling cancer for so long. Over the years, she helped start a cancer support program at Duke University and visits with newly-diagnosed cancer patients.
"You focus on someone else and not yourself. You just forget about what's going on with you," she said.
Emerson also works at the
Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center
, raising money for research.
"She's helped bring in resources for science that have already resulted in better treatments and more cures for cancer patients," said Dr. Michael Colvin, director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Emerson hopes her award will help inspire others to keep fighting. Although the future is uncertain, she still tries every day to find the "can" in cancer.
"I try to focus on the "can," and I think that's what gets me through," she said.
Emerson will be featured in the January issue of
. Her husband nominated her for the award. The editors were so moved by his letter that they are giving him the byline on the story.
She also has a lot of fans at Duke, including basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski who sent a letter that was read at the ceremony.
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