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January 29 was a Friday in 1999. The next day we went to a chilly, deserted Siesta Key beach and watched our girls, ages 5 and 7, run with the seagulls in the cold surf.

I sat shivering in a sand chair, wrapped in a beach towel, and wondered if I believed in God. I couldn’t decide.

Why? Because on Friday I’d been told that I had advanced breast cancer and would die in 18 to 24 months.

It’s been 24 years. My girls have earned five degrees between them and one is working on a PhD. They each have satisfying and important careers.

I spent nearly four years undergoing treatments and eight surgeries, but went on to make a new life for myself. I got divorced, earned two advanced degrees, traveled to Europe and South Korea and Israel, and became a rabbi.

I’m healthy and happy and grateful. And after all these years, I’ve decided.