Her name was Katy. A real person with a real story. Katy had recently suffered a car accident and was taken in for routine imaging after the accident. And that’s when they found it. A small lump with huge implications – breast cancer. It was just a 2 cm firm but movable nodule in her right upper breast, and yet her whole life plans for the next several months will drastically change. I wish I could tell you her real name but for now I will just share her story and what she and her cancer taught me about advocacy, awareness, and attitude.
I met Katy while working at an under-served clinic here in Sand Springs this past Monday. She was coming in for a check up for other medications but the physician had recently learned of her diagnosis. Her attitude and testimony during our short visit had far reaching impacts on those of us working with her. I hope more people who suffer terrible things have outlooks like Katy does.
When asked if she would mind an exam by the medical students working, she immediately and eagerly agreed. I have to say I was a little taken back with how eager she was for the 4 students and attending physicians to perform a full upper body palpatory exam. But she was excited. Why? Her answer was “I never knew what to really look for, what they tell you is different from what I feel. I want you to feel so you can help others.” Her selflessness with her privacy and body was amazing.
The stage was early and we did not yet suspect major complications but she was still facing expensive treatment, losing her beautiful hair, the physical trauma of the harsh chemo drugs on her body, possible mastectomy, and so many other hardships. And yet she seemed positive throughout our encounter. She oozed gratitude that she had been able to find it soon and have an MRI that would show it because otherwise she never would have known. She gave God the credit saying she knew everything happened for a reason. Courage like Katy’s is priceless and rare in the face of such daunting circumstances.
Katy taught me that even people told what to expect sometimes don’t know what to look for with cancer. Many people know it exists, there are plenty of campaigns for people knowing of the presence of breast cancer. We need more people who go for routine breast exams and then later the appropriate mammograms. Be proactive about your health ladies! We also need to be a community that cultivates a love for the victims, survivors, and families of ones whom cancer took. We need to invest in better research for better cures. We need to pray for those affected, the patients and their families. And we need to be so very thankful for each and every day we still have to breath.
I don’t know if I will ever see Katy again. We had the opportunity to pray with her before she left. And I can honestly say she has been in my prayers since. I pray she has effective treatment, and remission for the rest of her life and that she is richly blessed for the knowledge she has passed on to the medical community.
So how can you get involved for Breast Cancer Awareness month? Glad you asked! Everyone needs to check this symptoms guide from the National Breast Cancer Foundation for the ladies in their lives. If you are a med student, doctor or nurse be sure to check out these stethoscope charms. Super cute and a fun way to bring more awareness. And last, but certainly not least, if you are into Mary Kay a friend of mine is giving discounts to raise awareness this month. Looking good, saving money, and supporting a community that loves cancer patients is always a good idea.
Have you or a loved one faced breast cancer? Feel free to share in the comments!