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By Bobbie Whiteman

I’m one of the privileged few who were at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards ceremony, on Friday evening to watch dozens of celebs vying for a prize more precious than an Oscar — a cure for cancer.

I felt doubly privileged to be there because, on April 10, 2007, my persistent back pain was finally traced to five tumors that had made themselves at home along my spine plus one in my brain, though, thankfully, not in a part that I actually use.

The prognosis wasn’t good but thanks to the doctors at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA, who still don’t agree on the actual diagnosis for this rather obscure cancer, I’m still here.Standupcancerabsign_2

No wonder, then, that I found the hourlong "Stand Up to Cancer" fundraiser, broadcast commercial free by ABC, NBC and CBS, painful, joyful, educational, emotional and inspirational. And I felt honored that so many celebrities, medical specialists, their patients and families would give their time to help others to fight, and more importantly, survive cancer.

The harrowing stories of so many who had lost their struggle, which had me fighting back the tears, were balanced by the heartwarming and inspirational stories of survivors, often told by themselves.

I defy anyone not to have been moved by a beautiful little girl who, after enduring radiation and chemotherapy, managed to smile and say she just concentrated on "just making it through another day." It was a pleasure to see her joy at meeting her screen idol, Abigail Breslin (pictured above).

The numbers presented made terrifying reading. An American is diagnosed with cancer every 20 seconds, one dies every 60 seconds.But there are 12 million survivors out there — from Lance Standupcancerla Armstrong (pictured left), speaking from U.S. Cellular Field (home to the Chicago White Sox), to Patrick Swayze, still battling pancreatic cancer, who kicked off the show in the auditorium.

I was heartened by the reports from scientists very hopeful of finding a cure, an actual cure, in the next three to five years — if they have the money to speed up the process.

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