Getting a mammogram is a yearly thing for Turlock resident Kim Keas and became more of a way of life after her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was determined to keep on top of detecting breast cancer if it came her way and that is exactly what she did.
And this year was the year that she kicked breast cancer in the rear with the help of early detection.
In June, she received that phone call every woman dreads and she just knew. Keas was diagnosed with stage one invasive breast cancer.
“I knew by the look on his (her doctor’s) face that I had it,” Keas said. “Deep down I knew it. I just had that gut feeling.”
By August, the cancer was surgically removed leaving Keas with one breast but no cancer cells.
“Literally, from one month to the next my life was changed forever,” Keas said.
And because of early detection, cancer was removed within two months of detection with a high survival rate.
“The sooner you detect it the better chance you have to survive it and live your life,” she said. “Don’t wait to get your mammogram. If I would have waited longer, I would have been in the later stages.”
Because the doctors caught the cancer so early, Keas had the option to not go through chemotherapy. She also had the option to only get a lumpectomy done, where they remove the lump of cancer cells in her breast, instead of removing the entire breast.
She chose to get a mastectomy, removing the entire breast, that had two masses of cancer cells and she decided not to go through chemotherapy.
“I made the decision off of what would make me feel better and help me sleep at night,” Keas said. “I wanted it all gone.”
Keas didn’t undergo chemotherapy because she didn’t want her kids to see her go through that and surgery removed 80 percent of the cancer, she said.
Most cancer patients who remove one breast elect to get both of them removed just to be safe, but in Keas’ early stage of cancer, she wanted to keep one breast that was hers.
“I wanted to at least keep one that was me,” she said. “I didn’t want to have neither one mine. It would be more of a reminder of what I went through.”
But even before the removal of one of her breasts, she had the mentality of a breast cancer survivor.
“I have always thought ‘I am going to be a survivor,’” Keas said. “The other options weren’t for me.”
With that survivor mentality and early detection, she has been cancer free for about a month with high hopes for the future.
She still has to go through two to three more surgeries for reconstruction and five years of daily medication, but early detection helped her fight against cancer and become stronger than most.
“People keep saying ‘I’ll go next year, I’ll go next year’ to get mammograms and those years turn into stage three or stage four breast cancer,” Keas said.
Her cancer developed within one year and was caught early because of her yearly mammograms, she said.
“There is always hope,” Keas said. “Most assume breast cancer results in death, but that’s not it.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.