PART 3

Kara Keister Breast Cancer fundraiser Find your tribe.  Love them hard.

If it wasn’t for my mom, I could not have done it.  She was right there with me at every appointment.   She said, “We’re going to do this and this is going to be OK”. My mom, my then-boyfriend/now-husband, my immediate and extended family, my dance community, and my coworker; I would not have made it without them.  It takes a village. It honestly and truly does. I mean it. I had so much support behind me.  It wasn’t an option to fail.

I knew that Komen existed because we had been running the Race for the Cure for years. My mom completed treatment ten years prior at that point, so we knew organizations designed to assist with treatment, care, and support existed. I knew that the American Cancer Society existed. I knew that Cancer Patient Services of Hancock County existed. But, there was so much out there that I did not know existed that was brought to my attention during my treatment and I will forever be grateful.

When it’s you affected directly, it changes your perspective and if you weren’t involved before, it could be the catapult that makes you join the charge. And unfortunately, with breast cancer, one in eight women are diagnosed and one in four women are directly impacted. Read it again:  one in four. Directly impacted means your mother, your aunt, your sister, your grandmother. Somebody very, very close to you has been diagnosed or has some kind of breast cancer treatment ahead of them in their future. That’s intense. Look around your table. FOUR!  That’s a big number.

I had just turned 30 when I learned of the diagnosis.  Thirty was hard enough as is it.  I was working multiple full-time jobs. I was still volunteering. I was putting the effort in with my mother, who was a breast cancer survivor, actually a two-time breast cancer survivor at that point, so I kind of knew the drill.  And I needed all my people.  The whole tribe.

Kara Keister Breast Cancer fundraiser Let me be clear. Medical research saved my life. My doctors, nurses, PA’s, the lady that checked me in at the front desk.  They all saved my life.  The organizations that I had grown to know and love proved that every dime we had raised and every mile ran or walked mattered.  Research matters. My diagnosis and treatment were were different than what my mom received, what my great aunts received, and what every person after me will receive.  Those dollars matter and that research save lives.

It’s definitely scary. I didn’t know how to behave or how to act, but what I’ve been taught from a very young age is every day is another day.  Head down and work hard. We always say one day at a time, I know that that’s used for many struggles around the world, but taking one day at a time really got me through it. While life-altering, breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. While there’s much left to do in terms of research and treatment, there have been advances. I had a fast-growing tumor, but my healthcare team knew what to do and my doctors guided me and I was able to make my own medical decisions, which is also incredibly important and ultimately the reason why I can sit here today.

My people are everything and I am forever grateful for your support. To donate, please click here.