“The first time I saw this I hated it,” Dana Ravel says, pointing to her photograph. “The second time I thought, ‘she got me!’” She laughs and briefly assumes the boxer’s pose. But she was not always a fighter.
      When her beloved husband, with whom she shared a successful art business and a passion for collecting, died after an extended illness, Dana was inconsolable. She sold their house, closed the gallery, and isolated herself from old friends. “Gene would have been so mad at me, at the way I pulled back from everything,” she says.
      Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The biopsy report, read by her sister, a Dallas pathologist, indicated that nearly all of the lymph nodes were involved. This time Dana chose to fight back. She endured the stem cell treatment recommended by her doctor. “So I made this deal with God,” says Dana. “All right, God. I’ll do this, but by golly, life better be interesting. I want to have fun. Life is supposed to be fun.”
      Two years later, she opened another art gallery. She reconnected with old friends. She did not do reconstructive surgery.
      “This is your house,” Dana says, thumping her chest. “Your shell, the place your soul and your mind live, you know? It’s not as important as what’s inside.
      “Finding my peace, accepting and appreciating myself, that’s the most important side effect of the cancer. Now I look in the mirror and see a friend, someone I can love. I have absolutely no fear of dying—none. But while I’m here, I want to live.”

Dana died in February 2001 at the age of 57.

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