My name is Katie. Outside of my family and my wonderful friends, my passion in life is coaching youth basketball and volleyball. I am married with a 13 year-old son. I am the oldest of 7 children and the aunt to 16 nieces and nephews. And I am a survivor.
I was diagnosed with Her2 + Stage 2 cancer. I was confident I had cancer before my mammogram so I was not shocked by the diagnosis, just numb. My immediate concern was for my son and how the news and life change would affect him and possibly rob him of his youth and change his life.
Since I had a strong feeling my lump was cancer, my mother and one of my four sisters went with me to my mammogram which was the same day I was told I had cancer. I texted them from the radiologist patient room,“its cancer”. My mom and sister came back into the room immediately.
On the way home from the hospital, my sister called the rest of my five siblings so by the time we got to my parents house they were all there waiting. My then 12 year-old son came home from school and I sat him down privately and told him I had breast cancer. He looked at me with fear and asked me, “Are you going to die Mom? I said no I am NOT. He said you’re sure….? I said I am sure, don’t worry. I said I will be bald though… to which he responded, “when you come to practice you may want to wear a wig or a hat cause the other boys might stare and not pay attention.” As long as he knew I would not die, he was okay.
Two of my younger sisters cried every time they looked at me that evening, I informed them to stop as it was really annoying because I wasn’t crying. One of my sisters said “I am NOT shaving my head for you… I’m letting you know that up front”. I told her I would be mad if she did as I didn’t need her trying to steal all the stares and attention I was going to receive!
I truly believe the key to my success and a source of strength came from my oncologist Dr. Qamar Khan and his treatment plan, the support of my friends and family, my desire to live to raise my son and the belief that I had everything I needed to beat this disease. Dr. Khan told me truthfully that if I did what he said he was quite sure he could bring my body to a state of being cancer free. That was all I needed to know. I had 18 rounds of chemo, 4 surgeries, multiple scans, tests etc. Through all of it I trusted his words and thought about my son and family. Nothing seemed to really bring me down because I knew I would live and this was all short term. I went all over KC and on a trip to Las Vegas with my girlfriends, bald with nothing on my head! In fact, I was bald all summer long as the wigs and scarves were just too hot. My son, after seeing me bald, didn’t care and neither did his friends. I watched every one of his outdoor baseball games bald. The chemo and shots made me weak but I was able to push through because I knew I would win and I would get through. My girlfriends were all available for anything and everything from transporting my son to and from school and practice to bringing me whatever food I felt I could stomach during the bad chemo days. My support network made my journey so much tolerable.
I received my primary care at the University of Kansas Medical Center and I experienced tremendous help from Missy’s Boutique, The Stephanie Vest Foundation, KU Med Social Work Management, Susan G. Komen patient advocacy fund, American Cancer Society and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I have visited Missy’s on multiple occasions and they have been wonderful every time. They helped prepare me for my double mastectomy mentally by explaining in detail the comfort I would experience by the design of the camisoles I would wear and how to protect myself from pain by protecting the drains. I bought numerous cancer awareness items for friends & family and Missys’ always directed me to the best sellers and neatest pieces.
For women preparing to go through or experiencing what I did, I would advise them to research and seek out a great oncologist, trust that doctor and know that through all of the hardship there is a pot of gold at the end… Your LIFE!! Stay positive and never let yourself give up or give in to the negative thoughts that try and sneak in. Stay the course and know that you’re only going to come out a stronger person.
I was drawn to Art Bra KC as I wanted to be a part of anything that supports breast cancer awareness, research and help for cancer fighters. I am honored to be a part of this amazing event.
While my chemotherapy ended April 14, 2014, I had undergone a double mastectomy on July 31, 2013 where my surgeon and oncologist informed me I had no signs of cancer left in my breast or lymph nodes. That was when I truly felt cancer free.