The Best Gift I Ever Got: The Most Touching Presents Ever Exchanged
Back in the Saddle
Riding horses has always been a big part of my life. Ironically, the man I married was allergic to them. After riding I'd have to take off my clothes in the basement, then dash upstairs to shower.
My daughter, Kaylin, was also allergic to horses as a small child but, like me, she loved them. Luckily her allergies cleared up enough that she could ride comfortably. It was something we really enjoyed together.
In 2005, after 17 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to get a divorce. Shortly before our final court date I learned I had stage III breast cancer. I was 38 years old, divorced, and fighting for my life.
Over the next two years I had a double mastectomy, 11 other surgeries for infections, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and six weeks of daily radiation. When you're getting chemo your white blood cell count is low and you don't heal normally. But I insisted on riding with my daughter. On one of our rides I got thrown from my horse, and I hung on so hard I ripped all the skin off my hands. In agony I looked at Kaylin and said, "I can't do this," and I wasn't just talking about riding.
Then for Christmas 2006, Kaylin -- who was 12 -- did something that said "You are going to do this, Mom." She called my parents and siblings to ask them to chip in for a special gift. When I came downstairs Christmas morning, there was a beautiful Western saddle sitting under the tree. I was blown away.
Now that I'm in complete remission, my life and passions have been restored in many ways. And about a year ago I was finally able to take that beautiful saddle, put it on our family horse, and ride again.
-- Lauren Miller, 42, Highlands Ranch, Colorado