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Karen Diagnosed at age 35

"If cancer has done anything positive for me and my Fab 5, it's that we love much more, are more forgiving, and live life to the best of our ability on the daily!"


I am a 36 year old mother of four - two boys and two girls - Gavin 13, Ryan 11, Karson 3 and Kenzie 2. I was married November of 2016 to an absolutely wonderful supportive loving man named Ken. We are very much a hockey family, watching, playing, and life surrounding.

In May of 2016 my left nipple had started bleeding. This went on for a few months and I had thought it was still from an infection from nursing my youngest. I ignored it like most moms do until I found a large lump in the same breast. I went in for a mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and tumor biopsy. I was diagnosed at age 35 (August 11th, 2016) with Stage 3 grade 3 triple negative, BRACA negative, ductal and non-ductal invasive, and noninvasive 8.4 cm in tumors and three positive Lymph nodes. This was three months prior to our very overdue wedding, Ken and I will be together 7 years in January. I went through four rounds of dose dense AC bi-weekly with 12 rounds of Taxol weekly for a total of six months of chemotherapy.

Just before my second round of chemo I decided to take control and shaved all 27 inches of beautiful brown hair from my head and made it into a wig that I wore on my wedding day. Just after chemo, an MRI showed the tumors shrank to half the size and there were no suspicious nodes. A week after my MRI, I had pain in my left arm and went in for an ultrasound which all looked good. The night before surgery I had skin bumps pop up and they turned out to be cancer. During my a double mastectomy they found that in just five days the tumors grew 2cm and traveled to nine Lymph nodes - one was stuck in the nerves of my arm (hence the pain). I was originally going to have a double mastectomy straight to implants but with all the tissue they took I went with expanders.

I had seven fills in four weeks to prepare me for radiation. I started one of 36 rounds of radiation four weeks post operation and on the fourth treatment I had a reccurrence on the skin and two nodes. I did 36 radiation treatments with a Blois pad paired with nine straight weeks of Xeloda, an oral chemotherapy pill. Took a week break end of June and am back on them now. Then I had a nasty PET scan that showed spots on my right hip, right shoulder, lung and liver. The following week I did a bone biopsy on the hip which came back cancer, my lung, liver, and shoulder had real small spots that lit up so they were now guilty by association. I did a CT scan to get better images of them for a better idea on what we are looking at. The hip and liver are the only problem spots measuring at 10mm for the liver and 14mm for the hip.

I'm from Chicago and am on my second clinical trial at the University of Chicago. I tried Cisplatin with an inhibitor and ended up in the hospital to find the cancer had spread throughout my liver. I am now doing Abraxane with either a placebo or mifepristone. I have had 125 doctors’ appointments, one port placement, five biopsies, one Echo Gram , two ultrasounds, five CT Scans, two MRI’s, three bone scans, one pet scan, four rounds of dose dence AC, 12 rounds of taxol, one double mastectomy, 36 rounds of radiation with a bolis pad, 526 Xeloda (oral chemotherapy pills), two rounds of Cisplatin, 102 inhibitors, a five day hospital stay, two rounds of Abraxane, six mifepristone pills, and more to come.

I will hit month 14 of the battle on October 11th. My motto is I have cancer but cancer does not have me. If it has done anything positive for me and my Fab 5, it's that we love much more, are more forgiving, and live life to the best of our ability on the daily! Everything is a fun adventure! I try very hard to continue to live life like I did before cancer, so I am still working full time taking care of my fab 5 and trying to still be a great friend, daughter, mom, and wife. All the challenges I try to make cancer second and life first. There is so much beauty in this world that the media hides and cancer has opened my eyes to that over and over again. Just remember you can accomplish anything you want with hard work, a great support system, and a smile!

Are you a survivor, spouse, friend, or caretaker with a story to tell? We'd love to hear from you.