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Kicking cancer in the rear feels ‘amazing,’ says survivor

Kicking cancer in the rear feels ‘amazing,’ says survivor

Breast cancer survivor Kimberlie Donaldson-Zapien smiles knowing she beat cancer once and for all. She is wearing a breast cancer necklace, a breast cancer bracelet and a pink shirt to show her sup...


POSTED October 14, 2009 12:21 a.m.
After selecting one of the eight wigs she had collected throughout her battle, Kimberlie Donaldson-Zapien got all glammed up, drawing on her eyebrows and gluing on her eyelashes to go Christmas shopping. She didn’t want to look like a sick patient.  
As she was waiting in line to purchase some items, she noticed a family behind her. They had a little girl, about six years old in a stroller. She had a Disney bandana on and Donaldson-Zapien just knew.  
She went up to the family and asked to give their little girl a hug. The family asked “why” and Donaldson-Zapien said, “I know what she is going through, see, this is a wig.” She gave the little girl a hug and said “Baby, I love you,” then the tears started flowing from everyone nearby.       
Life felt like a breeze, said Donaldson-Zapien, after she fought through the loss of the front lobe of her brain due to cancer. But just three short years later, she was faced with a new battle. Breast cancer.  
Donaldson-Zapien woke up one morning and noticed an indentation in her right breast and she knew the battle she was about to fight. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with stage two ductal carcinoma breast cancer, which is in the milk ducts in the breasts. It is the most common type breast cancer.  
“I was trying to be positive, but the voice in the back of my head kept telling me I had cancer,” Donaldson-Zapien said.      
When she was diagnosed, the doctors found three black masses in her right breast. She went through three different doctors until she found the right one to help her get rid of the cancer.  She only had cancer in her right breast but Donaldson-Zapien wanted both breasts removed for fear of the cancer returning.  
“I did enough research to know that you have a higher chance to get cancer in the other breast, so I wanted both of them removed,” she said.  
Her first two doctors refused to do a double mastectomy so she said “third time is a charm,” and went to her last doctor who gave her what she wanted. She was given the option to start chemotherapy or get surgery first.  
“I want to start kicking this cancer’s ass now,” she said.  
Within the next week, she was started on two types of chemotherapy. The battle had begun.  
Soon enough, her daily showers were ruined with handfuls of hair gathering by the drain and bald spots, which she said started to make her feel like a cancer patient.  
“I went to the dollar store and I bought every bandana they had to match all my clothes,” she said.  
As her hair was falling out, Donaldson-Zapien decided to give in and shave her head.  
“I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “Demi Moore did it for a movie so I knew I could do it too.”  
After she shaved her head, Donaldson-Zapien picked up her hair off of the floor, put it in a Ziploc bag and labeled it “Sept. 14, 2007, bad hair day.”  That was the day she started her breast cancer collage in her closet.  
During her battle Donaldson-Zapien decided to bring her own team of fighters to help her beat the cancer — her mom, her daughter and her cousin, Victoria.
She developed an attitude of “I have cancer, it didn’t have me,” and she fought it all the way through.  
After four months of chemo, she decided she couldn’t take it anymore. Donaldson-Zapien was down to 118 pounds, couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat.  It was time for surgery.  
After her surgery, she was in tremendous amount of pain with both breasts removed.  
“I would rather give birth to triplets at the same time than go through a double mastectomy again,” she said.  
It has been about two years and so far, there is no sign of cancer in her body and Donaldson-Zapien said she is doing great. She plans to go back to school and hopes to one day become a phlebotomist. She has no car and no money, but she says “it will all work itself out.” After battling two cancers, a positive attitude is all that is left.  
After her journey through breast cancer, Donaldson-Zapien said she now understands why they call it a journey.  
“Cancer is evil,” Donaldson-Zapien said. “It puts a halt on your life and it’s not about you anymore, it’s about the cancer.”  
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.  

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