Richmond Hill: Fighting two wars at once

Michelle Smith says blast, cancer, like two wars

INDIANAPOLIS - Michelle Smith is at peace nowhere in the world more than in front of a set of black and white keys.

The piano is her pleasure, whether playing hymns at her church or practicing in her home. And her century-old instrument is the one thing she says she wanted to save last November when the house across the street exploded into her home.

"I was convinced that I wasn't going to leave the house until I boarded up the windows," Smith said, "because my piano is my prized possession, and I didn't want the weather to get to it."

Smith saved the piano, but would face even darker days in the months after the blast.

In January, just two months after a house exploded in her Richmond Hill neighborhood, Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As she fought the disease, Smith said she had two weapons: radiation therapy, and support from other cancer survivors in the neighborhood.

"They knew of the stress of the explosion, and they knew about the stress breast cancer brings," Smith said. "They sent me texts or e-mails, or brought me what I needed."

Smith also kept close by a picture she took with her daughter.

"She put her arms around me and said, 'Mom, we got this. We are going to do this. God's got this, and we're going to be OK,'" Smith remembered.

Smith said she viewed the cancer and the explosion together, as "two wars fought at the same time."

"They were intertwined because I was in the trenches with them both at the same time," she said.

And in the end, Smith says, she got to declare both wars won.

"I beat them both," she said. "Thank you Lord."

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