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Buddy to Buddy: Thriving in the face of recurring cancer

Three-time cancer survivor shares her secret to living a full, joyful life.

BREWER, Maine — To meet Sharine Kessock, of Brewer, you would never know she has spent half of her adult life fighting a deadly disease. Over the last twenty years, she has been diagnosed with cancer three times. But she says she was determined not to let it consume her. "How do I not let my life be living only as a cancer victim? I don't see myself as a victim so I did not want to live as such," she says.

To find the answer, Kessock turned to books. One in particular, The Power of Now by Eckhard Tolle, had a profound impact. "Realizing that the only moment you have is right now," she says, "Right now and right here.  And we do not have tomorrow. We don't. We don't even have five minutes from now."

Kessock says it took conscious effort and practice. But over time, living in the moment has become second nature. "I have been training for a long time now to dominate my thoughts to turn off that little voice in my head and really embrace everything that is right here and now," she says, "And that has been the way for me to survive, to be happy, to enjoy my children and grandchildren and not think about this horrible disease every five minutes."

As an example of how she has learned to train her mind, Kessock says she loves to get out into nature and appreciate each and every detail she observes. She says, "I go outside and I just watch the chickadee come up to the feeder. And I see every feather on her body and her little beak and how she eats and I just marvel in this little creation that flutters around. That is also meditation. Not having thoughts in your head but just taking it all in."

Kessock says she has learned and grown a lot through her experiences and is genuinely happy with her life. "That's a good way to live," she says, "From moment to moment and enjoy the small things of life."

RELATED: Sharine Kessock recommends that anyone fighting cancer find a support group. She says her "big sisters" as she calls them in the group she belongs to, Open Arms, have been a tremendous source of information, comfort, and camaraderie. Breast cancer support group goes virtual

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