Breast Cancer at 41

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My grandmother had breast cancer when she was in her 60’s. First in one breast and then five years later, it had spread to the other. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer at age 42 which eventually took her life at the age of 54.

I was 30 when I was tested for the breast cancer gene. I learned that I had the BRAC2 gene – meaning I was at high risk for both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I began my bi-annual visits to my surgical oncologist for bi-lateral MRI’s, ultrasounds, and mammograms. I was also given another option – prophylactic mastectomy.

At 30, I thought the surgeon crazy. Why on earth would I make such a radical decision? Why would I cut off my breasts on the off-chance I would get cancer SOMEDAY when there was absolutely nothing wrong with me today?!!! I wanted to have children. I was young. So I did what I could do and I kept up with my appointments. At 31, I gave birth to my daughter and at 35, I gave birth to my son. And every 6 months for the last 11 years, my doctor continued to ask me the same question “when are you having your bi-lateral mastectomy?” And I continued to answer “No, not yet.”

Last May, two weeks after my yearly OB-GYN appointment, I found a lump in my left breast. Small – it just appeared overnight and I thought nothing of it. Having breast fed two children, I was used to lumps coming and going. Just five years earlier I had a breast biopsy that turned out to be nothing. So I scheduled my appointment and went to see my doctor. He was all business. He immediately sent me in for a mammogram and an ultrasound (My insurance would not pay for a bi-lateral MRI since I had had one in October.) His orders – we are treating this as cancer until proven otherwise.

I scheduled the mammogram & ultrasound the afternoon before my son’s 7th birthday sleepover. I knew the drill – 15 minutes for the mammogram and 10 minutes for the ultrasound. It was no big deal – it was a cyst and it would be nothing. Everything would be just fine. In fact, I would fit the appointment in between frosting cupcakes and bringing the kids to see Monster’s University. Easy peazy!

The mammogram showed the lump clear as day. Yup, there it is! On to the ultrasound – here is where we could determine if this lump was a cyst. I sat there willing the image on the screen to be jet black……… then the radiologist came in to examine the images….then my lymph nodes appeared on the screen. The verdict – this is not a cyst and could be cancer. Time to schedule a biopsy.

On Monday, July 8th (coincidentally my 5-year runniversary), I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am 41 going on 42. Almost the same age of my mother when she was diagnosed. Scary because I know what cancer can do. I know what a double mastectomy looks like. I know what radiation can do to a body. I’ve seen chemo up close. I’ve seen the suffering. I know what those words mean. I know what is in store for me. And although I was prepared for the news, I was still in shock.

Over the last 3 weeks, I have begun to accept that I have breast cancer. I know what I’m going to do – and although the prognosis is good, and appears to have been caught early, my family history and having the BRAC2 gene led to my decision to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

On Tuesday, July 30th at 7:45am I will go into surgery. It will be a long recovery, but I’m up for the challenge. I can’t stop now, I have too much to do! In 30 days I will be in Disneyland running the Family Fun Run 5K and Dumbo Double Dare with my family!

But I want to thank those courageous ladies that have given me strength: Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, Kylie Minogue, Giuliana Rancic, but most importantly – grandma & mom. Thank you for sharing and now I will share in order to give others strength.

Please help me support Bright Pink by making a donation through my page for 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Even a small donation will help me achieve my goal! The process is fast, easy, and secure. Thanks so much for your support.

Help Me Support Team Bright Pink as I run the Chicago Marathon!

38 Comments on “Breast Cancer at 41

  1. Our family’s thoughts & prayers go out to you Kim!! You ARE a remarkable lady of such courage & strength it’s amazing!! Your positive attitude will do wonders for you I’m sure! Take care & good luck tomorrow!! XO

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  2. Kim, I know from your bright outlook and great attitude you will come through this with flying colors. My wife was diagnosed with DCIS in her right breast back in 2011 she was 45. She had no family history whatsoever and was shocked at the finding. She chose to have a lumpectomy on the breast and is doing fine. After having gone through radiation for 6.5 weeks (luckily no chemo) and all the associated appointments she came through a stronger person. I think I came out of the ordeal a little more patient and thankful. ( this is when we started taking Disney Cruises, our little celebration of life and making it through another trip around the sun) Having gone through all of this she has often mentioned that given the choice again she would have chose a double mastectomy, to alleviate some of the worry that we both deal with everyday. Good luck in your journey Kim and when its all behind you plan a DCL vacation. God Bless

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  3. This post had me in tears.
    I am also BRCA+ chose to have a preventative double mastectomy last year. It was scary. It was hard. And some days not very pretty. But now when I see my scarred chest and my fake tatas I so happy because they mean I am healthy. You are gonna get through this girlie. And you are gonna be healthy and strong again in no time. Sending you so much love and support! xoxo

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  4. Kim, You are one of the most amazing women I have the privilege to call FRIEND. My prayers and love are supporting you. The news you received following surgery was the best and I know that you have made the right decisions – when you were 30 and this past month when you followed through. Your beautiful daughter and son are proof of all you can and will accomplish – in a very long lifetime!

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  5. Krysten – yes, scary, hard, and totally had to be done. It was the right decision and I’m going to embrace my fake tatas because the other ones, although spectacular, were trying to kill me! 😉 Thank you for sharing. Strength in numbers and thank you for your love and support! xoxo right back to you!

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  6. Praying for you, Kim…and for Jack and the kids…for His hand to be on you; to strengthen you; to bring complete healing to you; to protect you; and to lift you up. His grace is everything.

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  7. Pingback: I <3 Mammograms | After the kids leave

  8. Praying for you and a quick recovery. Your facebook pictures look great, although I know it is not easy. Both of my grandmothers have had breast cancer and have had their breasts removed. While I am healthy now, I do wonder what the future will bring. Sending you many well wishes!

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  9. Pingback: Mammograms and me: A love story | After the kids leave

  10. You know, Kim, I was thinking of you today… and praying for you… and I was reminded that a positive attitude is the best medicine….”A cheerful heart is good medicine” Prov. 17:22.

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  11. I am so sorry you are going through this! I know this reply comes in a bit late but you will do great! The surgery is big but you are strong and healthy, recoup will be easy peasy. The first days are the hardest but I promise that with each day you will see great improvement. DO NOT let yourself think that you won’t be able to move your arms or anything like that. I read TONS of internet= freaked out but my surgeon said…sweetie I expect you to wash your own hair by the end of the week. I had double mastectomy and oophorectomy and I am 35 diagnosed with BC as well. Hang in there …treatments, chemo have all improved and you will be healthy and done with this in no time. I send you all my blessings 😉 I wish I liked running like you!!!!!!!

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