Elizabeth Edwards was very inspiring. I think what most people liked about her was that she was so candid about how she lived her life and how she was preparing her children.

This is a not a direct quote, but once she said that on the day you are dying, you want to look back on the day before and know that you lived it to the fullest.

She reminded us all of how to live life to the fullest. She knew what was facing her. We all know we’re going to die, but she knew it was imminent. She was writing those letters, preparing her children … and I think it makes people want to live a more full life themselves.

There have been other public figures that have had breast cancer, but her life seems like so many things went wrong. But like her book said, she was so resilient. I’m sure she had her private moments. But the public figure she displayedshe just did it with grace.

I was diagnosed in 2003. I was a month shy of 54. In 2009, the breast cancer recurred in my ovaries. But 2010 so far has been a good year. I think anyone who is diagnosed with cancer is always fearful of recurrence. Her death really brings home what’s importantto be more forgiving of the petty things. Life is a gift and you never know when it’s going to be taken from you.

After you are diagnosed and go through treatment, you say, “All those small things aren’t going to bother me again.” But you’re human. Her passing is a reminder to be forgiving. She was a very courageous woman, I think.

In December, our support group will go to the Washington Duke Inn for high tea. We decided to have a toast for her and celebrate her life.

Karen Gantt is a fitness coach who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and runs a support group for patients and survivors in Durham.