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On May 5, 2014 I had breast reduction surgery. I have always been a very intuitive person and remember asking my plastic surgeon what the chances were they find cancer when doing reductions? She assured me it rarely happens and it has never happened to any of her patients. Well, 10 days later I was informed the pathology report from my reduction showed DCIS breast cancer in my right breast. Since I had a reduction there were no clear margins, I would require radiation to my full breast and hormone therapy treatment unless I elected to do a mastectomy. Since then, I’ve had a double mastectomy, expanders, implants and fat grafting to complete the more natural look and feel of my new breasts.

Recently, I had an MRI of my liver because a lesion was found as an incidental result of an ultrasound for my gallbladder. The tech asked if I had any surgeries or implants which would show up on the scan, so I told her my story. After hearing my story she says, oh, you’re a survivor. I told her; no I don’t really identify myself as a survivor. And she said, why not? You had cancer and now you don’t. This was hard for me to explain because when I think of being a survivor I think you have to be a victim first. I have never felt victimize by anything in my life.

In 40 years, I’ve been raped, done drugs, seen lives lost, been abused, had skin and breast cancer and now raised a very medically complex child. None of these have ever made me say “why me” or made me feel victimized. I don’t consider myself a survivor for having lived through these things. I am a fighter! I have the “will, courage, determination, ability, or disposition to fight, struggle, resist, any challenge” I face. My life is in my control with how I deal with the challenges presented to me. Life is about choices and how you choose to deal with what has been presented. In tough situations I choose to fight!

Kristy Kargel
Stillwater, MN

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