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For Kathy Haywood, her purpose is “to make an impact on someone else that might not otherwise hear my story”. In May of 2008, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Years later, after her first rounds of treatment, Kathy found another lump in the exact same location as her first diagnosis. Kathy’s road to recovery has been intensive, as she received thirty-four treatments of radiation. This was only the beginning of Kathy’s trials…A few days after Kathy’s second surgery this year, her younger brother passed away unexpectedly.
Following that tragedy, Kathy felt she needed to stand strong and wear a mask of content and it was her daughter in-law that saw past it. Kathy said, “she’s very intuitive. She asked me ‘I know you and there’s something wrong—you haven’t mourned, have you?”. Kathy responded, “no I haven’t”. At that moment, Kathy said “We hugged, cried, and from that day on, I’ve let all of that go and just stayed positive”.
It took courage and relentless perseverance, but Kathy came out on the other side stronger than ever. With much hope in her voice, Kathy said “I have too much fabric to make quilts so I can’t go yet!”
Kathy’s story came to us through our Treatment Access Program survey that she filled out after utilizing the service. When people are recently diagnosed with breast cancer, times can be very difficult. Occasionally it can negatively impact one’s ability to complete their breast cancer treatment. Whether that’s their location, commute, or finances, certain economic barriers can prevent one from seeking out treatment. Komen’s Treatment Access Program breaks these barriers by offering lodging, transportation, and/or food compensation to complete breast cancer treatment. Kathy said she is “very appreciative” for the assistance saying “the Komen Foundation helped me with a $200 gas card to help pay for the transportation back and forth to appointments.”
For Kathy the importance of having faith in something is “so so so important” in the recovery process. She continues saying with grace, “without having a belief in something bigger than we are, I don’t think I could stay so positive”. Kathy speaks of one profound experience with her granddaughter that solidified the importance of family and faith in her life. “I asked my little 6-year-old granddaughter if she knew God…She responded saying ‘I know God and I know your mom’”. Kathy said “I’ve never talked about my mom passing away when I was 19 from a brain tumor. It was too much for a 6-year-old to know…so I responded back saying, ‘you know my mom?’ And she said ‘yeah, God and your mom sent me to you because they knew you needed me’”. Kathy still remembers that moment like it was yesterday.
The treatment access program gives patients the opportunity to let go of the burden of getting to and from treatment, especially coming from rural areas, and allows them to focus on the moments in between. Kathy advises anyone going through treatment to find a local support group or solid support system, to find something just for you and to look into the Treatment Access Program if they’re struggling with getting to treatment. Kathy believes it’s key to have those around when you need them but that you also need a “peaceful place for you.”
With full transparency, Kathy said that she would sometimes go for drives to put her mind at ease. She said “this is my time to listen to my music, to scream, to cry, to pray, to do whatever it is I feel that day by myself”. For Kathy, solitude and support from family and friends has brought her new life.