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Liverpool: Celebrating Sarah's Strength

The ultrasound showed an enlarged lymph node. Sarah was immediately scheduled for a CAT scan of her chest. She called her uncle, a doctor in D.C., and asked him to come with her. She didn't call her parents yet. "I didn't want to mess up anyone's schedule," she said.

After the CAT scan, Sarah's uncle broke the news to her: "It looks like lymphoma," he said.

"I broke down," Sarah said. "I didn't want to make the phone calls [to tell my family]."

As soon as they heard the news, Sarah's parents got in the car and went to Rochester to pick up Rebecca. They then made the eight- to 10-hour drive to Washington.

Meanwhile, Sarah's boyfriend stayed by her side while she had a needle biopsy, the results of which were inconclusive.

"I really started to process it then," she said. "I was so glad he was there. [That first night] was the only night I cried the whole night."

Sarah was scheduled for surgery to biopsy the mass and determine if it was indeed cancerous. It was here that she felt a guiding hand.

"The first surgeon I met with just made me really uncomfortable," she said. "He really downplayed everything. I went back to my doctor and asked to see another surgeon."

The surgeon she ended up with, Dr. Fred Finelli, was even more than what she had hoped for. Finelli, it turned out, had grown up in the house behind Sarah's grandmother and knew her father and uncle. The serendipitous coincidence meant that Sarah was put on the fast track for surgery and treatment.

"They really jumped through hoops for me," she said. "God really intervened."

Once the surgeon determined that Sarah did have cancer, she had to leave school with just three weeks left in the semester. Her insurance company required that she be treated within the coverage area of Syracuse, so she had to pack up her apartment and come home. But she hopes to return to Washington by the middle of the summer.

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