Kim's Story

Cancer during the pandemic …

“It was probably the worst situation imaginable, ” Kim said.

Her annual check up in early spring 2020 had been cancelled because of Covid fears, but was rescheduled to May. “I had good insurance through work, but they were hit very hard. The status of my job was up in the air week by week.”

When she finally got in to see her doctor, Kim asked about tests. There is a history of breast cancer in Kim’s family, and looking at her chart, her doctor recommended a breast MRI. “For some reason, I had an inner nagging feeling that I needed to have this done,” Kim said. “I never felt a lump, there was nothing wrong with me. I just knew I had to have it done.”

When the call from her doctor came, it started with, “You better sit down.” They had found something. Subsequent tests confirmed the news — triple positive breast cancer.

Kim has a very supportive partner in her husband Joe, a respiratory therapist at the medical center. “He’s really good with this sort of thing,” she said. But he was working many shifts during the height of the pandemic. “He was able to come to my initial consult with the oncologist and surgeon, but after that, they wouldn’t let anyone else in the hospital.

“I feel like I had to do a lot of this by myself. I did chemo alone — you couldn’t have anybody. Same with radiation. It was pretty scary. Nobody allowed, I was on my own. And that was hard.

“When Covid was brand new, Joe would come home from work and he was outside stripping down and spraying Lysol, so he didn’t bring it into the house. He was trying to protect his immuno-compromised wife. “Toward the end of my chemo, we were literally isolated from each other. We wore masks around each other and slept in separate bedrooms, trying to do whatever we could so I wouldn’t get sick.”

“I’m trying to grow my hair out after losing it to chemo,” she said. “Second to being sick, losing my hair was the most traumatic thing about all this! This picture of me is the first time I went out without a wig. It says — vulnerable — to me.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what you go through. I went to the doctor feeling fine, and came out feeling worse because of what I would have to go through.

“I’m dealing with a lot of repercussions right now. The fear of recurrence? It’s very common. I also have a lot of pain in my foot. Is it related? Late showing neuropathy? I’m going to the doctor to find out.”

“I think it’s really important to try a support group,” Kim said. “Your family can love you as much as they possibly can, but they’ve never done this before. They have no idea what you’re going through — mentally, physically, emotionally — and it’s really important to connect.”

While doing online research, Kim found a link for A Time to Heal. She liked what she read, and decided it was an appropriate time “to do something like this.”

Kim is from upstate New York with a fantastic cancer center, a great oncologist and a supportive family. We’re honored she made the decision to check us out and join our class! Other participants in her class were from Iowa, Nebraska, New Mexico and South Dakota.

“I really enjoyed the class, and the book was AMAZING!” Kim said. “In my class, I felt heard and I felt recognized, because it wasn’t just me — those people knew what I was talking about! We’d all been through similar experiences.

“Even though class is over now, I’m going to take some time and go through the book more thoroughly and see what else is in there. Our facilitator recently sent out an email to let us know about an online ‘class reunion,’ and  I’m definitely going to jump on when that happens!”

Learn more about our classes here or to help other survivors, please click here.