By Rethink Breast Cancer September 19 2018
Name: Kim Angell
Occupation: Human Resources Advisor
Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 34
Breast cancer type: Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ER+, PR+, HER2-)
Breast cancer stage: Stage 2B
Treatment: Lumpectomy, 8 rounds of dose dense AC+T chemo, 28 radiation treatments, bilateral mastectomy with immediate latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction, additional surgeries including fat grafting, and now currently on hormone therapy (AI + ovarian suppressor) for 5+ years.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer.
I love fun and exciting outdoor adventures from ziplining, to white water rafting, to deep sea diving, and riding extreme rollercoasters! I am also slightly obsessed with all things 80s!
What’s your go-to pick-me-up song?
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys. I feel so pumped and confident when I listen to this song!
How did you discover your breast cancer?
I was lying in bed one night when I had a sudden feeling to do a self breast exam, never thinking in a million years that I would find anything. My doctor had just performed an exam on me 8 months prior so I was taken aback when I found the lump in my breast.
What went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I couldn’t believe this was happening. Even though I had a strong family history of cancer, I never expected to hear those words “you have cancer”. I was terrified wondering if I was going to survive it and I felt sick at the thought of telling my family.
What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer?
At least you got the good cancer. Really?!
What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer?
The most difficult thing was feeling alone in a sea of older women facing much different realities. I was going through menopause at 34 years old, lost my ability to have children, and had just stepped into a new career that I suddenly had to put on hold. I couldn’t relate to anyone in my local support groups and thought I was the only young woman going through this.
Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer?
My friends, family and coworkers really stepped up and rallied around me when I was first diagnosed. Whether it was coming by with a meal, going out for a walk, making me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, or sending me a quick message just to check up on me, they made me feel so loved and supported.
One of the biggest supports has been connecting with other young women around the world who have been affected by breast cancer. There are no judgments, no explanations and no holding back. These women truly get it and understand the struggles we continue to face each day and I am forever grateful for the friendships I’ve made through this.
What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer?
I am stronger than I know. And I discovered a new found passion in breast cancer advocacy work. I always knew I was meant to help people in some way but going through breast cancer was not what I had in mind!
In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
You are your own biggest advocate – It is your body and your choice so don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and do what is right for you.