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As Vivian has dealt with the world around her, she has also coped with a silent, personal struggle of her own—breast cancer. When Vivian was diagnosed about 10 years ago, she kept her condition a secret from everyone in her family, even her own mother. "It was too much for my sons," she says. "They had lost their father already. We had Nina, who is profoundly disabled."

Vivian is telling her story now in hopes that it will help someone else. In fact, the only person Vivian allowed herself to open up to was a friend of a friend whom she never met in person. "No one knew what it felt like other than this person ... who I never met, but she talked to me late at night [on the phone] when I would cry," Vivian says.

Vivian says she doesn't even know her name, but Oprah does. Her name is Lani, and they meet for the first time on Oprah's stage. Lani, who has been cancer-free for 20 years, says she never knew she was talking to a legendry coach and is thrilled to finally meet Vivian. "I would tell her, 'One day, you will comfort others,'" Lani says. "I think every woman, once you have breast cancer, you live in faith and come against fear every day."
FROM: Sports Legends Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Vivian Stringer
Published on December 01, 2008