My good friend, Kara Passante, was my guest on Catch Good Health Radio on May 29th, and she shared how she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at the age of 29- yes, 29 years young. She learned of her diagnosis when she was with her husband and two very young daughters. Here are the take aways from the show that I truly believe could save someone’s life:
Trust your gut.
Had Kara not trusted her gut, she may not be here today. She had every intention of breast feeding her children. During the show, she shared that she had a dream one night, before her oldest daughter was born, that shifted things for her. When she woke up, she knew unequivocally that breast feeding was not right for her. She didn’t know why, but she just knew. Kara was fully aware that breast feeding children has huge benefits for them, and everyone around her breast fed their children, but for some reason, she knew it wasn’t right for her. Thankfully, she trusted her instincts.
Kara formula fed both daughters, and it was because her breasts were not swollen from breast feeding that she was able to feel a large lump in her left breast when her youngest was just a few months old. Surprisingly that lump was not actually the cancer- the tumor was directly below it. After a double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, radiation, and other meds, Kara is cancer free.
The second take away from our show was to advocate. If you’re in the middle of a health crisis, you have to advocate for yourself. If you’re too tired, or you don’t know how to do it, have someone you trust do it for you. Kara’s husband Craig advocated for her. He researched doctors and found the best ones for her to go to. He made call after call, and wouldn’t take no for an answer when he felt it was important enough.
Assemble your team.
Like many people facing a health crisis, Kara knew she needed to assemble a team. She needed multiple doctors- an oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiologists, pathologists, etc. She also knew she needed to find people who would work with her, and who would be accessible and easy to get a hold of. She also wanted a team who could work together. Kara met with multiple doctors, and selected those she wanted on Team Kara. Because of this, she could trust them and their recommendations.
Take Help When Offered & Offer it to those in Need
Not only did Kara’s family rally around her, so did her community. Acquaintances offered to babysit and cooked her and her family meals. Her sister coordinated many of the volunteers’ efforts. A friend orchestrated a flash mob in Jeffersonville, NY. Everyone rallied around Kara, and she realized it wasn’t just her fighting to regain her health- her entire community was too. She was not alone.
Now that Kara is on the other side of breast cancer, she is a strong advocate for others going through cancer. She was selected to be the Grand Marshall for Sullivan County, NY’s Relay for Life, and her husband was the Caregiver Grand Marshall. She was also asked to lead the Survivors’ Lap for the American Cancer Society.
Kara has also joined forces with our mutual friend, Glorianne, who is both a nurse and a cancer survivor herself. Together, they created Ride 2 Survive- Sullivan County. Ride 2 Survive is raising funds to help cover the transportation costs for cancer patients traveling for treatment. They are accepting donations, and they have a fundraiser scheduled for November 16th. If you’d like to learn more, here’s their FaceBook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/ridetosurvive.
Look for the Inspiration…
While Kara was on her journey and things were rough, she looked to Maya Angelou for inspiration. Kara shared that one of her favorite quotes related to moving away from saying “how could you,” and towards her saying “thank you.” Instead of staying angry that she developed cancer, she was thankful she was alive.
Glorianne also shared a quote on the Ride 2 Survive fan page. It’s a quote by Roger Crawford, and it was written on a note she received with a donation attached. “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” Absolutely.
Many, many thanks to Kara for being my guest on the Catch Good Health Radio Show, and for being so open in sharing her story. I know that she has already inspired many, and we both hope that this information helps someone going through a similar health journey.
If you missed our radio show, here it is: