BURNSVILLE, Minn. — October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we’re sharing stories of hope and perseverance -- as proof that we can and will one day defeat this disease.
A Burnsville woman has one more surgery before she leaves cancer in the rearview mirror. She’s now helping others who are fighting cancer, too.
Katy Smith is a wife and mom of two. She remembers some of the few times she cried on her journey to beat breast cancer. One specific memory comes to mind; the time she told her small son about how far she made it in her recovery.
“I could say that I was better to him and he gave me the biggest, strongest hug that he could because I was better and he didn’t have to be gentle with my owies anymore.” Smith recalled.
Smith was diagnosed about a year ago thanks to a gut feeling. Smith discovered a lump near her arm pit that was swollen and sore. Her doctor was aware of her family’s history of breast cancer. Still, Smith was told not to be concerned. After a visit to a surgeon, Smith was again told everything was fine, but she wasn’t convinced. She made the choice to get the lump removed and tested – an elective procedure.
It turned out that her gut feeling was right. Smith was diagnosed with cancer, but doctors were stumped about what kind. “My pathology report was inconclusive essentially, so it didn’t come back saying yes, you have breast cancer,” Smith said.
Smith took a trip to the Mayo Clinic after the initial surgery. That’s when Mayo doctors discovered a tiny, 7-millimeter breast tumor close to where the lymph node had been removed.
“When I learned I had breast cancer, I had a weird sense of relief and I think that was because I knew for sure what it was. My sister had gone through it and so I felt like I knew to some degree what to expect.”
Smith worked a full-time job while going to chemo every week.
Her husband, Jacob, is still in awe of her attitude towards treatment saying, “She absolutely is a fighter. She took every day one day at a time, which was impressive to see. You know, she never really let it get her down or beat her emotionally. I think that was a big piece to help you know, get through.”
Smith has one more surgery in December. Now she wants to help others get through with her Pink Package Project just launched in late October.
Packages are sent to someone going through treatment. The boxes include a mix of jewelry, journals and exercises for mental health. There are also candy lozenges to help during treatment. “You know, all of the little things that I felt really helped me during my journey,” Smith said.
One of the biggest pieces of advice Smith offers is to listen to the voice inside your head. “If something doesn’t seem right, even if doctors are telling you that it’s nothing or you’re fine, just pursue it.”