Survivor Stories 2013:
How did you first find out you had cancer?
On Monday, July 8, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am 41 going on 42 (October)–almost the same age as my mother when she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in October 1989.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I had been tested for the breast cancer gene when I was 30. I am BRCA2+ so it was not a total surprise, yet I was upset and scared. I went through all the 5 stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
Since I had been working with a surgical oncologist since I was 30, I knew exactly what I was going to do if my lump was indeed cancerous. I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
I was surprised how good the mastectomy looked and that the pain was tolerable. My grandmother had a double mastectomy, first in one breast in the 1970s and then in the other in the 1980s. She was butchered.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
My first advice would be to do your research. You need to know and understand all your options. If you don’t like what you hear, then please get a second opinion. Remember these medical professionals work for you. I had the luxury of time (11 years) on my side. My second bit of advice would be to get a support system in place. You are going to need help–with yourself, your children, and your household. Source it out to your mother, mother-in-law, sister–whomever can handle that responsibility. You need to focus on your healing.
How long have you been cancer free?
They removed my breasts and three lymph nodes on July 30 and my pathology report came back negative. I will, however, meet with a medical oncologist for chemo treatment.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I learned to focus and enjoy the present. I learned that I will not make time for things that do not matter to me or my family.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Even after 11 years of yearly medical breast exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, blood tests and bilateral MRIs on my breasts, I am the one who found the lump. ME! So know your body and perform your own breast self exams.
My name is Kimberly Markey and I am 41. I’m from Kensington, Connecticut. I have been happily married to my husband for 13 years, and we have two children: Kathryn, 10 and Ryan, 7. Other family members include a Vizsla and Siamese. I am a marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company and in my spare time I run, scrapbook, and travel. I have completed 18 half marathons and 12 full marathons in my 5 years of running. My next big race is runDisney’s Disneyland Half Marathon Labor Day weekend. My family and I will run the 5K together and then I will run the Dumbo Double Dare on my own. Yes, 30 days after my bi-lateral mastectomy.