Stories of surviving cancer

Actor Patrick Swayze opened up to Barbara Walters about facing insurmountable odds. Swayze is fighting pancreatic cancer.

Melanoma survivor Peggy Maddox knows exactly what he is going through.

"I was told I probably only had a couple of months to live because of the metastasis," said Peggy.

Some doctors said Peggy had a 17 percent chance of living for two years. Other doctors had shorter predictions. Finally, one physician offered a wakeup call: Peggy had a 50-50 chance of making it.

When breast cancer survivor Lisa Bronson underwent a lumpectomy, the news kept getting worse.

"It had actually gotten much bigger than they originally thought," said Lisa.

At the time Lisa was going through a heated divorce. Rather than feel sorry for herself, Lisa turned to others for support.

"I think that's the biggest trick with surviving cancer and living with cancer, is letting people in," said Lisa.

Both Lisa and Peggy did their research and sought out as many expert opinions as possible.

Dr. Armando Giuliano deals with cases similar to that of Peggy and Lisa every day. He has learned you can never take away hope.

"Most cancers we see are curable," said Dr. Giuliano. "The cure rate for breast cancer is extremely high now. And even people who have cancer -- even cancers that are non-resectable -- can be treated with drugs."

Peggy enrolled in an experimental vaccine trial at St. John's Heath Center

"Twenty-five years later, and I'm still here," said Peggy.

Lisa is currently looking forward to her five year anniversary of being cancer-free.

"I advocate for other patients. I tell people, 'It's not a picnic. I certainly wouldn't wish this for anyone. But, this will not be the worse thing you go through,'" said Lisa.

"You know how they say don't sweat the small stuff? Well, it's all small stuff. Try to evaluate and put your priorities in order," said Peggy.

"We should all deal with life one day at a time because none of us know what is in the future," said Dr. Giuliano.

For these women, their message is to find the blessings wherever you can.

"I feel so blessed," said Lisa. "I think, ultimately, my living through cancer has made my life much richer."



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