Aurora beat the odds and spends her time helping others cope. Photo by Mayo Clinic staff.

Twenty years ago, a doctor lowered his head and gently told Aurora she had about one year to live.

At 73, and after a few rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Aurora is the face and voice of hope on the oncology floor at Mayo Clinic. Quick-paced and full of energy, she dons a green jacket and volunteers to work alongside the same doctor and the same nurses who administered her treatments. (She’s good friends with the doctor and his family now.)

She can brighten any room, uplift many a discouraged soul, and tease any clinician who dutifully looks at the overwhelming facts and — with a heavy heart — forecasts a gloomy prognosis.

Her name means dawn, sunrise, new day. Like the aurora borealis, she shines in the dark, long night. She uses herself as an example when she talks to patients. (“You were in my shoes? Twenty years ago? Look at you now!”) She nudges them out of self-pity with a little humor and a dash of tough love that goes back to her roots.

“My mother always said, ‘Al mal tiempo, buena cara,‘To bad weather, you show your good face.” She was born and raised in Spain, and emigrated as a young adult.

I meet many people who can call themselves walking miracles; they always inspire me beyond the medical facts. Seldom do I meet one who shines as bright as Aurora. Thank you, Aurora of the many sunrises, for sharing your light with me and everyone who crosses your path.

The full story of Aurora and her battle with multiple myeloma will be featured in an article for my client, Mayo Clinic. These are my personal impressions.