By Susan Klie Corfman, 55, Poolesville, occupational therapist

I thought of my son as my angel but called him my superhero because, like most young boys, he loved the superheroes.

He became my hero when his little fingers pushed into my neck and found a tumor. After surgery to remove the tumor, doctors diagnosed cancer. I was scheduled for six weeks of radiation.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis was terrifying, and I was eager to begin the treatments. To ensure that the radiation hit the target spots, my head and neck had to be kept absolutely still. A porous plastic mask of my face was made, and each day the mask was placed over my face and bolted to the treatment table on which I lay. Then a huge, noisy machine would move toward me. It delivered lifesaving radiation but seemed like a monster. I was horrified, and panicked. My heart raced, and I hyperventilated.

During each treatment, I kept this 1-inch-tall Spider-Man in my pants pocket. It reminded me of my own little superhero. I would hold Spidey and think of my love for my son, family, friends and life. Little Spider-Man gave me courage.

(Nathaniel Grann/TWP)

That was 16 years ago. Our son is off exploring the world, and our daughter is entering her teenage years. I keep Spidey in the jewelry box on my dresser. Occasionally I take him out, hold him in the palm of my hand, and am grateful.

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