Survivor!!!

Please don't let me die like my mom.

'Please don't let me die like my mom'. Those are the first words I remember trying to utter as I was waking up from the anesthesia after my breast biopsy in Paducah, Kentucky. Before I was even coherent, the doctor had told me I had breast cancer, at least 4 lumps, all cancerous. My mother had died a horrible death, of breast cancer with mets to the bones, in her 50's. I was 31 years old when mine was diagnosed, and newly married. Two weeks before, I remember the awful feeling of dread that I experienced when I found the lump in my left breast while showering. Now it was confirmed, and I just knew one thing, I wanted to come home to central Illinois for my care. So we put our lives on hold and moved back to the Peoria area. I had a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy, under the guidance of my wonderful oncologist, Dr. John Kugler. Not long after my chemotherapy was over, I became sick again. Oh no, it's back, I thought. But miracles never cease...I was pregnant....even though I was supposedly in menopause from the chemo. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Taylor, in September of 1990. Fast forward a few years....to 1999. I had been toying with the idea...since I had first been diagnosed with cancer....of going back to school and into the medical field. My inspiration was not only all of the wonderful people I had met while going through all of the testing, surgery, treatments, but also all of the not-so-wonderful people I had the opportunity to cross paths with. Anyone who has been ill knows THESE people. The ones who treat you like a number, or a test. The ones who don't call you by name, and obviously don't care what you are going through in your life. There for the paycheck, mad at their spouse??? Who knows why they are so uncaring, I just knew I could try to be better. So off to school I went, at the age of....well, let's just say over 40. Xray was my goal, and while it was very tough and trying, I made it through my first year, albeit not with flying colors, but I made it. (thanks to the great ICC instructors, and a tough but caring Methodist Medical Center preceptor who didn't give up on me!) My second year into school, I went for a routine mammogram at the Susan G. Komen center. My heart was in my throat when the tech wanted the dreaded "more pictures". For some reason (age??) I cannot remember the Mammography techs name, but she is a God-send. The calcification was so close to my chest wall, I don't know how she saw it, but she truly went the extra mile, and probably saved my life.The next day, after Dr. Shile did a biopsy, it was confirmed. A second primary cancer in my right breast. Few days later, a second mastectomy, done by Dr. Denise Mammolito, and 3 days later, back in classroom for my Radiography classes. I made it through school, got my degree, but it just wasn't enough....not enough patient care for me. So Dr. Mammolito suggested Ultrasound. I love Ultrasound, the perfect balance of patient and family care, the challenge of it, the chance to make a difference in patients' lives. So many in the medical field are there for the wrong reasons, or went into it for the right reason, only to get burned out from the stress and frustration of it. Each day I try to remind myself that the patients that I am caring for have no one else at that very moment, during the Ultrasound, only me. I can try to make a difference in their life, like so many of the doctors, nurses, and many other hospital personnel have made in my life. I would not go back and CHOOSE to have cancer in my life. And while I still am attempting to pass the dreaded Ultrasound boards, (because the mind just isn't the same as it was in high school!) I have found what I truly love to do...and I wouldn't have done it had I not gotten cancer. And I COULDN'T have done it without the compassion and care from Dr. Kugler and Dr. Mammolito, who are both amazing doctors. (Or my husband Steve and daughter Taylor, who have been behind me all the way, and by now think I will be a student until I retire!) I believe God doesn't give you what you can handle, he helps you handle what you are given.So along with the sorrow that cancer gave me, it also sent me on a path that enriched my life in ways I would have never dreamed possible. I was given cancer, and I made the best of it. I am a survivor.

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Rascal says ... on Monday, Aug 1 at 12:48 PM

I dont want to die like my grandma... she died in abject terror screaming bloody murder.. (car crash). I would rather go out like my grandfather.. sound asleep and at peace.. behind the wheel.....

Beth Miner says ... on Thursday, Sep 18 at 7:54 PM

This woman is a true hero to me. She lost her mother at a young age, fought through two bouts of cancer, and went back to school to study her calling in life. Not only is she my hero, she is my sister! I love you Karen!

Becca says ... on Tuesday, Sep 16 at 4:50 PM

I found this story to be very uplifting. My sister died at the age of 27 from breast cancer, and I live with the fear that I will get it too. Every mammogram, I think.. "is this the one". I eally felt "cricket's" emotions in this story. INSPIRING!

Anonymous says ... on Tuesday, Sep 16 at 9:17 AM

I think that this story is kind of sad cause her mother passed away, but in the long run its a good one beacause she recovered and had a little girl

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