Michelle Steger

2021 Model Survivor

Michelle Steger

Hello! My name is Michelle Steger. I am the mother to three awesome kids; Jackson, 15; Grace, 12 and Olivia, 8 and have been married to my wonderful husband Jason for over 20 years. As an Army spouse, I’ve lived a life of moving and exploring different parts of the country for nearly 21 years. My husband will retire in early Fall and we will thankfully stay put in Lansing, KS. I kid you not, I discovered my cancer while waiting to meet Donald Duck at Disney World. While living in Tampa, I took my daughters (ages 3 and 8 at the time) for a day trip to Disney and I remember being really annoyed with my bra while waiting in line. I felt a lot of pain in my left breast. When I went to put on my bra the next day, I noticed a sizable lump very close to my skin. I convinced myself it was a simple cyst, but would be sure to see my primary doctor as soon as possible. I was 39 years old at the time and experienced my first mammogram, followed by multiple sonograms, an MRI, a biopsy, and an MRIguided biopsy. I was informed only minutes before my first biopsy that I most definitely had breast cancer and I would require a mastectomy (try laying still for a biopsy after that bomb). I opted for a bilateral mastectomy and learned that I was stage 2 following that surgery. The good news was that I was cancer-free following the surgery. The bad news was, due to my age, I needed to follow up the surgery with eight rounds of chemo and 30 sessions of radiation. I was thankful to be treated at one of the top cancer centers: Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. I was even more thankful to receive DIEP Flap breast reconstruction from Dr. Butterworth at KU Health System shortly after moving back to Kansas City. From the start, Jason and I felt there was a reason for my diagnosis. We felt it would lead us to something bigger than ourselves. Shortly after radiation, I found that reason. Dragon Boating. I was introduced to the Pink Dragon Ladies, a dragon boat team for cancer survivors in Tampa Bay. The sport changed my life and the women I met quickly became my sisters. I went on to compete in the IBCPC Dragon Boat Festival in Florence, Italy, the following summer (2018). Bittersweetly, the Army had different plans for us and shipped us back to Kansas City only eight months after joining the team. I knew in my heart that cancer survivors in Kansas City needed to experience the same thing I had in Tampa. In April of 2019, I started the KC Pink Warriors Dragon Boat Team. The team was enthusiastically-received by survivors and grew quickly. Within one year, we grew to 35+ women, became a 501(c)3, raced in four different states, purchased our own 40’ long dragon boat and established a board of directors. We also registered to compete at the next IBCPC Festival in New Zealand in 2023. We all know how devastating a cancer diagnosis is and how grueling the treatments can be. I am proud to have turned that negative experience into a happy result for myself, my family and Kansas City survivors. Jason and I have followed through with our mission of creating something bigger than ourselves and are happy to add Bra Couture KC to the list of happy results! 14