Kim’s Story

Kim, Goochland

Please tell us when you were diagnosed and at what age. I was diagnosed in August 2014, having just turned 49 years old.

Please tell us when you were diagnosed and at what age. I was diagnosed in August 2014, having just turned 49 years old.

What stage and type of breast cancer were you diagnosed with? Stage 2B, ER+, PR+, HER2+ IDC

How was your breast cancer initially detected? I was diagnosed with my annual mammogram.

How did you feel when you first received your diagnosis?  When I first received my diagnosis I was in disbelief and overwhelmed. I remember wondering how was I ever going to tell my husband, my son, and my parents. I was unable to comprehend how this diagnosis might affect my life and my work. I also remember being very pragmatic and realizing that I needed to do what I needed to do and pleaded with the doctor to provide me a game plan and a solution quickly so that I could get on with my life. I had no idea how long it would take to obtain an accurate diagnosis, how much additional testing was needed and all the different layers that are involved with the different subtypes of breast cancer. Breast Cancer is a learning experience!

Do you have a family history of breast cancer?  My paternal grandmother had breast cancer but I was totally unaware of the extent of her diagnosis and treatment protocol. I believe in her day, women did not discuss this openly.

Did you have a support system? If not, how did you overcome or find it? I had an amazing support system… my family, my personal friends, my work friends… people that I knew well and people that I didn’t know so well rallied around me with support of all kinds. I know how very fortunate I am to have received the love and care on so many different levels and from so many different sources.

What was your treatment process?  After extensive testing to include a bone biopsy, I received my port and began chemotherapy. I received 6 months of chemotherapy (AC-T) and then had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. My lymph nodes removed during surgery, however, tested positive for live cancer even after the neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. This turned out to be a blessing because the nodes were run through pathology again, and the HER2 mutation now tested positive. I went back into chemotherapy (Taxotere, Herceptin, and Perjeta) to address the remaining cancer and the HER2. I had 33 sessions of radiation in August 2015 and had surgery for my permanent implants in October 2016. My port was taken out in June 2017. I continue to take Arimidex on a daily basis.

Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process? If so, what were these obstacles and how did you overcome them?  I had some of the typical side effects from the treatment which I dealt with on a symptom by symptom basis. Fortunately, there are lots of tips and tricks for handling many of these issues, and I figured out how to do that as well as possible. When I was in my initial staging and treatment process, I had to figure out how/when to balance working and treatment. I was able to be out of work during the initial phase of chemotherapy and then work on a part-time basis until I was able to return to full-time status. Figuring out this balance and allowing myself to listen to my body to get the rest that I needed while also trying to maintain a sense of my working identity and life purpose was a delicate balance that took some time to develop.

What message would you like to provide to others facing a diagnosis?  I would like others who are facing a diagnosis to be aware of the many reliable resources and support that are available. I’d like for them to know that they are not alone and that there are many of us who have walked this path and are willing and available to share our experiences.

What is your connection to the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation? Have you used any of VBCF’s resources, attended any of our events, or gotten involved in our work? Tell us more.  I found VBCF while in my initial chemotherapy treatment. I was looking for resources/support and requested a newly diagnosed packet. I also appreciated the resources online that included links to other reputable groups and educational information. I became intrigued by the work of the organization and signed up to participate in a state advocacy day. From there I became a member of the advocacy committee and participated in the national advocacy day. As I continued to learn more, I decided to become part of the education committee and became involved on that level. I have appreciated the opportunities to learn, grow, support and connect with others through my involvement with this organization.


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