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Fighting Cancer Together

Take time this month to recognize those affected by breast cancer

Kris StroedeImagine waking up, fresh from vacation, ready to start your first day back to work. Now imagine jumping in the shower and feeling a lump. That was me 13 years ago. 

Really? I don’t have time for this! I need to get my 7- and 3-year-olds ready for their day. 

I try to ignore it but the next day, there it is again.

I finally make a doctor’s appointment. As I am sitting in the waiting room I keep telling myself that I’m overreacting. I’m only 36 years old with two young kids. After an examination, the doctor tells me it’s nothing and I should use a warm washcloth on the lump and it will go away.

Really? I don’t have time for this!

After much conversation the appointment ends with me demanding a mammogram.

Mammogram was complete. But I could tell by the look on the technician’s face things were not okay. She recommends I make a follow-up appointment as soon as possible.

Really? I don’t have time for this!

But I had to take the time to deal with it, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within two weeks of my diagnosis I had to undergo a modified radical mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

I had to lean on family and friends to help me with my kids as I recovered. I had to let my mom mother me while I was feeling sorry for myself and tell me to fight and stop with the pity party.    

Later, I go to see my oncologist and am told I need chemotherapy.

Really? I don’t have time for this!

But the next six months changed my life forever for the better.

At my first chemo treatment I saw some very, very ill people. I realized that life is beautiful, and so is having family and friends to lean on and seeing my amazing boys grow up. That even bald was beautiful! Coming to work and being with my wonderful coworkers was a feeling of normalcy and just what I needed.

No matter how old you are, what your family history is, whether you are rich or poor, female or male, breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. Everyone knows or will know someone touched by breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. I was one of the lucky ones. Although my cancer was Stage 4, I caught it early enough to get the treatment I needed and beat it.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Talk to your family and friends about the importance of self-exams and encourage them to make an appointment for that mammogram they’ve been putting off.

Don’t let them tell you they don’t have the time.  

Posted by Kris Stroede on Thu, Oct 10 2013 8:36 pmKris Stroede is a commercial-farm/ranch business technology specialist with American Family Insurance.