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Raleigh Women Share Common Goal: Fighting Breast Cancer

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RALEIGH — Facing a life-threatening illness is tough even when you have lots of support from family and friends. People say they understand, but unless they have been there, it is hard to really understand. Two Raleigh women who were brought together by their illness now have a determination to help others.

Michelle Siler has a fighting spirit on and off the tennis court. In 1999, Siler faced her toughest opponent ever -- breast cancer. Her urge to beat the disease went into full swing.

Women with breast cancer often feel alone, but as Siler started her treatment, she discovered that another woman in her neighborhood, Susan Barry, had just been diagnosed.

"My first thought was I just got to survive this somehow," Barry says. "I'll take whatever they're going to give me for it. I want to raise my children, and I don't want this to be the end of the line for me."

Siler dropped a note in Barry's mailbox offering support and a friendship was born.

"It meant everything. It meant everything in the world. I don't know how I could have survived it without Michelle's support," Barry says.

The women have started a local foundation to benefit cancer research. The Sisko Foundation's first big fund-raiser is a tennis exhibition planned for November.

"You get through these harrowing medical situations, and you come out and you feel like you're OK again. You feel like I've got to do something about this," Barry says.

Siler says she wants to give back to others what she has received -- the gift of life.

"It feels great to play tennis again and to be able to be alive and play," she says.

The exhibition will be held at the Seven Oaks Tennis Club and the Raleigh Racquet Club in North Raleigh during the first weekend in November. It will feature several prominent tennis players from around the world.

The group hopes to raise $100,000. Eighty percent of the money is slated for research, the rest will help pay for mammograms for women who cannot afford them.


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