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Friends rally behind single mom with cancer

There are times when life doles out lemons again and again and again. That is how Scotia resident Jacqueline Rice Matthews, 38, felt when she was in the hospital for heart failure due to complications from her chemotherapy when her employer called and told her she was being laid off. She had missed too much work because of her breast cancer treatments and the subsequent complications.

Luckily, the single mother of Zoe, 3, has a strong support system of family and friends who want nothing more than to help her.

It's just been a series of one [piece of] bad news after the other," said Lisa Durand, who is a lifetime friend of Matthews. "She's been very good as far as her attitude. I think a lot of it is because of her daughter. She's trying to keep a positive attitude and be a good role model for her and ease everyone else's fears."

Durand and other family and friends of Matthews have been trying to raise money to help Matthews make it through the next couple of months financially.

"Basically, in September of 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy back in September. In October I started my chemotherapy. In April I had one more chemotherapy treatment to go, and I was having trouble breathing," said Matthews, speaking the day before she was scheduled to undergo a double mastectomy Monday, July 20.

She was fighting her second battle with breast cancer in 10 years when she went to her doctor and found that the chemotherapy treatments were weakening her heart. Matthews was hospitalized for more than two weeks. Doctors hoped that through medications, treatment and monitoring, Matthews would begin to recover, but they eventually had to install a defibrillator. Due to her heart complications, she will not be able to finish her cancer treatment and have radiation. Matthews' only other option was the double mastectomy. Without it, she was told she had a 40 percent chance of her cancer returning.

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