“I don’t know what happened after that,” Kimberly says. “My mind just didn’t process it. I remember crying and that’s about it.”
Kimberly was a mom of three and nine months pregnant at the time of her diagnoses in 2014. While playing with her children one day, she was accidentally hit in the chest. She shrugged off the pain at first, but then worried when it wouldn’t go away.
“I was feeling the area and found a lump,” she says. “I didn’t think too much of it. I thought it was just related to pregnancy and hormones. I had an OB appointment coming up, so I figured I’d just ask her. Everything kind of snowballed after that.”
After finding out the lump was indeed cancer, things happened quickly for Kimberly. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy three days after getting the call, and then treatments began two weeks after that at Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center. Kimberly’s life was then filled with chemotherapy, radiation and various surgeries — including a double mastectomy and hysterectomy.
“I had my biggest surgery in January 2017,” she says. “It’s called the DIEP flap. You spend a week in the hospital, and then it probably took about four months to recover. They basically cut you open from hip to hip and dissect your stomach — tissue, skin, fat, and muscles — and use this to do breast reconstruction. The surgery was a little over 10 hours. It’s a big surgery. Now I am doing fantastic, I had a surgery in July and hopefully my last one in December.”
Fighting cancer and raising a young family is not an easy task, but Kimberly found strength through her caregivers, loved ones — especially her husband and mother — and the friends she met in a local breast cancer support group.
“One of the best support systems for me was Jilynne Hafen, the social worker at Dixie Regional,” she says. “I have cried in her office more times than I can count. She’s got me through some really hard times. The support group is also invaluable to me. We’re always trying to find other women who are going through the same thing. We don’t want anyone to feel alone or confused.”
When her treatments began, Kimberly received several care packages from loved ones full of treats, blankets, water bottles and other useful items. She said it’s the little things that mean the most, like even a quick text from a friend. “I love getting an occasional text, email or phone call that just says, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about you and hope you’re doing OK,’” Kimberly says. “That really gives me a push and motivation. It keeps me going.”
Kimberly is getting better and better every day, and she doesn’t let breast cancer define her. She enjoys spending time with her family in the great outdoors, and looks forward to skiing — both water and snow — again when she fully heals. “I’m excited to get back into skiing,” she says. “I’ve had to take a two-year hiatus. Maybe next year I can return to all the activities I love.”
For information on breast cancer services at Dixie Regional, visit http://bit.ly/2xeSmGI.