Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Survivor Spotlight: Kathleen's Story

Meet Kathleen. Kathleen, resident of Waukesha County, was not getting annual mammograms until she got a new job at Target that provided her with health insurance. Shortly after, she found a lump above her breast bone and went in for a mammogram. The hospital sent her a letter saying they found something on her mammogram and she had to come back in for a second examination. The doctor informed her she had cancer in 2011 at the age of 52. With no family history of the disease, Kathleen was shocked. “It’s like my whole life fell right in front of me.”

She struggled to share the news with her family, knowing she would be unable to pay for the unavoidable expenses of breast cancer treatment. After a biopsy, Kathleen went in for six sessions of chemotherapy. In order to support herself, Kathleen had to go back to work on Monday, following Friday chemotherapy sessions. To cope, she took advantage of many programs in the Milwaukee community: a Nurse Navigator, Community Cares, and Susan G. Komen. Komen provided Kathleen with funding for transportation, co-pays, and deductibles. 

In October 2012, Kathleen had lumpectomy surgery, followed by radiation. Her doctors found lung cancer. She spent more time in the hospital, underwent more surgery, and had to take off work for more than a month. Her body was at the point of giving up during much of this time, and she almost lost her life – but didn’t stop fighting.

She completed her radiation sessions for breast cancer in March 2012, and she believes she is cancer free today. Through all of this, her biggest challenge was thinking positive, and “knowing there’s a reason I’m still here.” She hopes that people will see the importance of breast self-exams and mammograms. Also, she recognizes the importance of a supportive network during cancer treatment and is thankful for her mother, daughter, siblings, and co-workers who have supported her during the past few years.

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