Heidi Kaprelian, 1970-2010

On Jan. 26, 2010, my life changed forever. That was the day my sister lost her battle with breast cancer. She was 39 years old.

During her fight, no matter how sick she got, she always had a warm, loving smile to give. Her optimism was contagious. I learned from her that no matter how bad life gets, you should stay positive and live life moment by moment because tomorrow may never come. Her death was a wake-up call telling me that life is fragile and short.

During my sisterís battle, my family and the small Midwest community fought side by side and provided the necessary support with the common goal of winning the war against breast cancer.

My sister was employed by a regional hospital in rural Illinois. Even after she was unable to continue her work commitments, the hospital retained her as an active employee.

Numerous employees at the hospital donated their personally accrued sick time in order for her to continue receiving benefits and allowed her to focus on her fight.

My family will forever be indebted to the individuals that made sacrifices on her behalf.

Even though she is gone, she will never be forgotten. Her emotional, yet tragic, journey and her conviction to never surrender are a common thread between those who are battling breast cancer. For those of us who have been touched by the cold reality of breast cancer, we will never stop fighting. We will continue to fight and someday we will win.

Ben Heckman

Mount Pleasant