gmhTODAY Fall 2021 October-December 2021 - Page 37

Breast Cancer Awareness Month :

Karyn s Journey

By Karyn Corbett
Cancer in any form is life changing and can be scary . However , with early detection and by facing it head on , your chance of successfully beating the “ C ” word , improves dramatically . Since October is breast cancer awareness month , we asked our friend Karyn — who just kicked cancer to the curb — to share her journey and lessons learned .

Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women , with more than 2.3 million women diagnosed with the disease in 2020 , according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation . But with early detection , it can be easily treated , increasing women ’ s survival rates ( and men ’ s- -men can get breast cancer , too ). October is Breast Cancer Awareness month , something I ’ m grateful for , as a survivor of this disease .

I can recall the day the radiologist gave me the side eye at an appointment . “ It has blood flow , that ’ s not a good sign ,” he said of my tumor . Crap . I knew I had breast cancer , but I had to wait for myriad other procedures compressed into five working days for the oncologist to confirm .
Thank goodness fewer people die from breast cancer now , thanks to advances in medicine , ( though 685,000 women did succumb to the disease worldwide in 2020 )… but the treatment is lengthy , and it takes over a year away from your life . My treatment began with a port placement , involved five months of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to try to shrink it , then finding out it didn ’ t shrink enough to be able to do a lumpectomy , followed by mentally shifting to have a bilateral mastectomy ( I loved my boobs , talk about traumatic !), then six weeks of daily radiation . What an emotional roller coaster .
My lesson – catch it early ! One in eight women gets breast cancer . DO YOUR MONTHLY EXAM !
Heck , make it fun by having your significant other help out . While self-checks are important , you should also get your annual mammogram – and if you have dense breasts like I do , request a screening ultrasound – I didn ’ t even know that was a thing . Whatever you do , don ’ t ignore the lump . My hubby and I were in the middle of moving out of state and I was putting off follow-up treatment . My best friend had to threaten to knock me out and drive me to the doctor herself to get me to go . Thank goodness she insisted , because after more testing at my new doctor , it turns out my cancer was Stage 3A , not stage 2B . Had I waited until we were more settled in Arizona , it could have been much more advanced … and deadly .
What got me through ? My husband , my sister , my family , and great friends old and new . Sleepovers , support visits , gluten-free goodies , hats , blankets , books and flowers , dinners out ( protected ), and side trips during breaks between treatments . My support system is AMAZING ! My hubby and friends shaved their heads in solidarity , my friend Mike sported a mohawk with wild colors to keep me laughing and in good spirits . Now my hair has grown back and is longer than his . And thank goodness for my friend Debbi , coaching me behind the scenes based on her own cancer experience 18 years ago . I realize how blessed I am that medicine has advanced so much in that time .
I am officially cancer free as of July 2 , 2021 and I ’ m still waiting on my final reconstruction , which will not happen until January 2022 . That ’ ll be 18 months of living my life “ in limbo ” since I found the mass . So please find it sooner rather than later . If you learn that you have breast cancer , don ’ t panic ; get started on healing as fast as you can . I hope you never have to lose 18 months of your life , but if you do , I hope you are surrounded by as much love and positivity as I am – it has made all the difference in the world . And having bald friends helps too !
Whether you have reason to be concerned , just being proactive , or supporting someone who ’ s been diagnosed with cancer , take advantage of these local resources :
Amercian Cancer Society - 24 / 7 support and resources : 800-227-2345 / cancer . org
Cancer CAREpoint - 2505 Samaritan Drive , Building 400 , Suite 402 , San Jose , CA 95124 : 408.402.661 : cancercarepoint . org - financial assistance , one on one counseling , nutrition counseling , resources and education .
Bay Area Cancer Connections - Palo Alto , CA 94306 : Helpline : 650-326-6686 / Español : 650-326-6299 x 22 : bayareahelpline . org - one on one support , support groups , social activities , financial support , information and resources , free of charge .
Saint Louise Breast Care Centers - 9400 No Name Uno , Gilroy , CA 95020 : 408-848-2000 / 408-848-8640 : slrh . sccgov . org - mammograms , utrasound , self evaluation lessons .
Susan G . Komen - komen . org / Helpline : 1-877 GO KOMEN / 1-877-465-6636 ( Se habla español ): helpline @ komen . org - Financial assitance and resources , treatment assistance program , legal resources Mayo Clinic - Alternative cancer treatments : 10 options to consider : mayoclinic . org / diseases-conditions / cancer / in-depth / cancer-treatment / art-20047246
Other resources : if you have insurance , contact your healthcare provider . if you need insurance , visit : coveredca . com
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