More about life after breast cancer

The day will come when you're no longer preoccupied with thoughts of breast cancer—but it may not be a happier place to find yourself. "All that baloney about living each day to the fullest, blah blah—I do not see it through such a rosy lens," says Lynn Prowitt-Smith, 42, of Fairfield, Conn.

She feels as if cancer has toughened her inside. "Cancer changes you, for sure, but more in the way that 9/11 changed everyone," she says. "It's a wake-up call, something that robs you of your feelings of security, immortality, your innocence."

Still, Prowitt-Smith admits, she feels better equipped to handle emergencies. And now, 10 years post-cancer, she's had her share: She has weathered a divorce, is parenting a son as a single mom, and has faced the death of her father. "Cancer is horrible, painful, scary," she says, "like a lot of things you get hit with in life. And then you get through it."