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Survivor Stories: Kara Anderson

Survivor Stories:
Kara Anderson

How did you first find out you had cancer?

I was at the doctor for a yearly exam and had what felt like a mosquito bite and had her check. She did not notice during the breast part of the exam but I was there so I mentioned it. I have no idea why since it was not anything that I would have thought cancer would feel or look like. She said it was nothing, but to ease my mind we would a first time, baseline mammogram. I was 39. Actually hoping to go in and talk about having another baby.

How did you react when you heard the news?

I was sitting at home and the doctor called and asked if I was driving, well duh that gave it away. I cried for about 20 minutes and then went into research and conquer mode. I did not know the all the details so the Internet was a bit scary but I knew I had cancer and began to see what and where would be the course of action for this journey. Cheesy I know, but true.  “Do or Die” was motto. Stage 2, 1 node, Triple Positive

What course of treatment were you prescribed?

I have triple positive which years ago was a “grave” diagnosis but with new drugs the chances are better. I had a high recur rate so I wanted to slam it with all I could. I had a bilateral mastectomy, no reconstruction (ugh), TCH chemo of five months, 33 days of radiation, Herceptin (wonder drug) for one year.  I signed up for a clinical trial of Neratinib in Orlando Fl for one year and then I was accepted into another clinical trial for a Her2 vaccine in Seattle, Wa.  I am now on Tamox and look often to see if there is anything else I can do.

What most surprised you about your treatment?

The days and time went faster than I imagined before it all started. I went to Mayo Clinic which was a blessing because my schedule was planned efficiently with little work on my part.  Just show up. The chemo was scary but doable and I may be the only person that gained weight rather than lost. I had crummy days but more like a bad flu than a death sentence, my taste buds changed, carbonated drinks burned my throat and I realized jalapenos were not the best thing to eat after treatment. I did not get a port which most do and by the end I was so anxious to see another needle but by the grace of God we made it for year with one arm and these veins. I hate needles and cancer!

What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Do not read the internet to see what others have gone through. People only share the bad rather than the easy. With each treatment know that you are working to kill the beast that tried to kill you and YOU and GOD will win this battle. Call me!

How long have you been cancer free?

Never know which date works but I had the tumors removed on May 2009, I finished my last trial February 2012. The bad news is you will never be FREE of cancer since it invaded your body there are days in the future that it will invade your mind when  you work, play and sleep. You just have to believe that you have done all you can and that this is a blessing to enjoy life more than you did before.  Make the most of everyday but do things with a sense of urgency.

What lessons did you learn from the experience?

Cancer gave me confidence to things and go places I thought I never could or would. I have children and although there are days that they drive me utterly crazy, I do see the blessing each day with them. I find ways to help others more rather than just walking though each day trying to make a living.  I now remember this: While you are making a living remember to also make a life.  Make memories and create a busket list now to check off instead of when you are sick. Why do we wait to do the things we dream of doing?

If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?

Seriously…buy more life insurance for your family now when you are healthy because that option will go away when  you are diagnosed with cancer.  Remember that every day may not be good but to look for the good in everyday.

Kara Anderson is a breast cancer survivor.  She has invented a product called The Bag Holder, wrote and published a children’s book called Santa’s Secret Elf, which is about her 5-year-old who sat on Santa’s lap and all he asked for was that his Mommy get better and not go to heaven.  Kara also started a non profit called Cleaning with a Meaning that cleans for families that have kids diagnosed with a serious illness or injury. 

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