Kara Coates My story begins at age 29, when I found a pea size lump in my left breast. I assumed it was just too much caffeine intake but still had it checked out. Since it was so surface oriented, a biopsy was done and to my surprise it was cancer. I went thru a lumpectomy and radiation…. luckily my lymph nodes were not affected. My memories of this time are sketchy and limited. Stage 1 and DONE at age 30! Moving forward to age 49. My asymmetrical breast issues finally get the attention of my doctor and a mammogram and biopsy are completed. I’m waiting for the test results – this is the hardest part as far as I’m concerned. After several days, the call came telling me what I feared. WOW – how could I have cancer again after 20 years? It just seemed like it should have been seen earlier as my entire left breast and lymph nodes were affected – Stage 3. My treatment was aggressive and started quickly with a double mastectomy. The chemo was so scary for me as I’d been through radiation before, but not chemo. The loss of my hair, brows and lashes, the sickness, the weird steroid feeling after each treatment, everything tasting or should I say not tasting the way it should. It was so hard to get up and go to work or do the everyday things I needed to do. I did make it through and with a crazy positive attitude – I had no idea where this positive strong person came from. To my surprise my five weeks, twice per day, everyday radiation was the hardest for me. It took so such time to just get back and forth to the appointments, and the extreme treatment on tissue that was also radiated when I was 30 left me with horrible burns. My skin and tissue damage is permanent and it limits my options for reconstruction – so no breasts for me. I have scars, but I am here to tell the story, so that’s what’s important. I was mortified at the cost of these treatments – how on earth could someone without good insurance afford this? The financial, physical and emotional strain on my personal relationships have been affected permanently. I find small benefits when I think of my cancer fight – such as, I no longer must wear a bra or when I was bald I saved tons of money on hair products and stylist fees! Stage 3 and Cancer Free at 51! In November of 2016 – I noticed a rough patch of skin above my right mastectomy scar. Results of a biopsy showed a reoccurrence in the right chest wall of my cancer and a PET scan was done to check the status of the spread. I had a whole support team for my meeting with my oncologist to find out the results – my mother, husband, son and friends. The cancer had spread throughout my upper body lymph nodes, along with my ribs on the left side and potentially in my lungs. I was informed that day that my cancer was treatable but not curable – and I was told a life expectancy of 2-10 years. My reaction was questions: what does curable exactly mean and where we would go from here? I am currently undergoing oral chemo and shots to control the spread and this will work for an undetermined timeframe – once the cancer progresses we will change the treatment to help control the spread. Living with Stage 4 at 53! Now for the survivor part – I consider myself a special example of surviving. I’ve literally survived for 24 years after my first diagnosis of cancer and that’s an amazing example of treatment success. I’ve found a strength in myself I had no idea even existed and have been reminded the important things in life aren’t things….they are experiences and people. I’ve seen my sons grow to be supportive and understanding young men - these two angels of mine are what keeps me going. I still am lucky enough to have supportive parents in my life. My parents had two children, myself and my older brother. They lost my brother due to brain cancer, and I literally refuse to put them through that pain again. In my mind, there is no question that I will
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Kara sways to the music in an elegant floor length boat neck gown by Mori Lee, $186. Blouson styling and an all-over sequin pattern on midnight blue make it an evening knockout. Delicate rhinestone necklace and post earrings add the perfect sparkle, $75 for the set. Courtesy of Dora Grace Bridal, Fort Collins.
Published on Aug 31, 2017