Tri-Valley SOCKs (Stepping Out for Cancer Kures)
KRISTEN DEMEDUK AMARAL: 2016 Bra Walk HONOREE
November 7th, 2014: The day my whole world turned upside down...
Our good friends, the soon-to-be "Brasils" were getting married that day; it was a Friday. My husband, Danny, and I were driving to Carmel to celebrate their big day and we only made it five miles down the road when my wonderful OB-GYN called. I love her; she had delivered our amazing son, Ryder Daniel, just 10 months prior. I was still breastfeeding Ryder and had felt a lump that past summer. I self-diagnosed it as "a clogged milk duct," until (Thank God) I decided to get it checked out.
"ALL ABOUT THE BOOBS" youtube video
Breast Cancer Survivor Kristen D. Amaral shares her story...
I answered the phone with no thoughts on what we were about to hear. She asked how my day was going and I told her it was good. She asked if it was a good time to talk; I said, "Yes, of course." She continued ... "Kristen, I know you went in for your ultrasound yesterday and Rita took a few biopsies..." (Uh huh) "...the first round of pathology tests are in and it IS cancer, Kristen." "WHAT????" "I know, I know, I am so sorry to have to call and tell you this right now, but we are assembling a team of doctors for you and they are going to call you soon to schedule to meet with you as soon as possible."
THAT MOMENT ... THAT MOMENT RIGHT THERE was HEARTBREAKING. Flashes of my son in the future; riding a wakeboard, graduating from High School, introducing his first girlfriend to us ... it all flooded my mind and my eyes welled with tears. My husband grabbed my hand and held it tight. When I hung up the phone I was shrieking -- crying -- shaking -- that feeling of helplessness is unlike any I had ever felt. What was I supposed to do? Go to the wedding? Put on a happy face? I wanted to crawl into a hole, curl up like a baby and cry. I immediately called my mom, who was in total disbelief: "WHAT?!?! WHAT?!?!?!" The whole thing was a NIGHTMARE ... a nightmare ... that's the best way to describe the next few moments after the call ...
As we sat in the car, everything just flew by -- I have no recollection of the drive to Carmel -- I was in a complete haze. I do remember getting a call from my mom's good friend who has beaten breast cancer and she wanted to offer HOPE and support. Her call did help -- it gave me perspective ... I wasn't going to die that day ... I was going to have a fight ahead of me, but life wasn't ENDING ... I needed to snap out of it and LIVE. And, I DID -- I DID JUST THAT!
We made it to Carmel, checked into our hotel and got ready to celebrate! I will NEVER forget the Brasil wedding -- it was such an AMAZING night! I let loose, drank my wine and DANCED; Danny and I danced like we did when we first got together. Our love shined and we really enjoyed the night with family and friends. I didn't know it at the time, but that night really set the stage for how I would attack this nasty thing called breast cancer.
Right away we decided we would not give it the satisfaction of saying it's full name; instead, we call it the "f'n c" -- quite appropriate for the rage I felt toward it once I put my "fight face" on. My 1st doctor appointment revealed that I had invasive ductal carcinoma and that f'n c was 5-6 cm and had invaded my axilla lymph nodes, which gave a a Stage 3 diagnosis. It was a tough diagnosis to swallow and it only got more difficult when I found out that I am BRCA2 positive, and so is my mother and my Aunt. Some would say I gave them the gift of "prevention," but for me, it felt like I was just the bearer of bad news.
My fight started two days before Thanksgiving with chemotherapy and antibody drug infusions. I received that "miracle drip" every three weeks for a total of six treatments. The first week after treatment I called my "down time" and weeks two and three were reserved for LIVING IT UP. We took trips to Pismo Beach, Bear Valley, enjoyed the Holidays, hosted and celebrated my son's 1st birthday with 150 close friends and family members, and had a lot of quality family time together. It was tough on the body, but I thought of it like this: I was sending the all-powerful PAC Woman in to take out the f'n c ghosts that tried to escape into the blood stream and infect my body elsewhere. PAC Woman KILLED IT. Literally.
When I completed chemotherapy I had a huge "PINK" party to celebrate LIFE and my
34th birthday. At my party, I debuted my new hit song, "All About the Boobs -- No Cancer," a parody of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass." It was a success and I never felt more alive!
A couple weeks post party, I said goodbye to my wonderful boobs and I had surgery; double mastectomy with a lymphadenectomy. They sent my breast off to the lab and the results were crystal clear -- NO MORE f'n c. I am elated to say: I AM IN REMISSION. April 9th, 2016 will be one year cancer free!
My friends wanted to show support for me and others so they rallied with me to raise over $4,000 for the Tri-Valley SOCKs Bras for the Cause Walk in 2015. That was just four weeks after surgery and although I wasn't sure I could make it the full 10K, I felt
assurance that if I couldn't I would definitely get a fun ride in the limo! Bras for the Cause is such an inspiring walk -- to spend time with others that are/were battling breast cancer and to see everyone come together to fight against it and share their stories was truly amazing. We knew right away that we would continue to walk in the coming years and I am so proud and honored to be such an important part of it this year!
After the walk in 2015, I continued my treatment plan, taking on 28 rounds of radiation, six more months of infusions every three weeks and then my final implant surgery and port removal in December.
During my fight, I found comfort in keeping "busy" doing things that brought me joy. One of those things was a music video. With the help of family, friends and additional breast cancer fighters, I turned the song parody that I performed at my birthday into the "All About the Boobs" music video. I have been using it as my vehicle to help me spread awareness and stress the importance of early detection. If you have a moment, please watch it (LINK BELOW) and share!
Words cannot express how thankful I am for all the love and support I have received from my family and friends; they helped get me through this tough year and opened my eyes to how wonderful people truly are!!! I also feel especially fortunate to have outstanding Doctors; without their talent I never could have made it this far.
Each day is a gift and we must unwrap that gift and enjoy it to the FULLEST, for we never know when it can be taken away from us. I always thought of myself as a person that LIVED life, but now I see things deeper -- life took on new meaning and not a day passes that I don't spend time being thankful for each small moment.