Meet Kristi R., a new member of the Pink Bubble who will be participating in her first Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in San Diego this fall! For Kristi, this is not simply 60 miles, but a journey of strength, courage, and hope. Read on as Kristi shares her story, her passion for this cause, and why she thinks everyone should sign up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.
What is your connection to breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer in December 2021. It had spread to my lymph nodes and bones (hip, spine, collarbone, and sternum). I immediately underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy. In the fall of 2022, they found my cancer had spread to my brain. I underwent radiation last month to target those tumors (four of them) in my brain. I am currently on chemotherapy pills that pass through the blood-brain barrier to target the brain tumors and help prevent new ones from forming, and I also have infusion treatments every three weeks to target the cancer in my bones.
When did you first get involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day?
I had seen posts on Facebook but wasn’t sure how or if I could join. Once I found out my cancer had spread to my brain, I immediately felt like I needed a support group. So, at the beginning of the year, I went ahead and accepted the challenge to be a solo first-time walker for the San Diego 3-Day, not knowing how I was going to raise the money to attend!
Tell us your story!
I’m 39 years old and a single mom to a 9-year-old boy named Jaxon. I live in the Pacific Northwest (Bend, Oregon) and love the outdoors! My son and I paddleboard and kayak in the summer and ski and sled in the winter.
I was raised in Central California and joined the United States Coast Guard right out of high school. I signed up for a 4-year term and was stationed on a ship for my first two years. It was an exhilarating experience for a young 19-year-old girl. After the military, I got my esthetician license and began my career in skin and beauty. I have opened, managed and consulted many resorts and medical spas in California, South Carolina and Oregon.
My cancer diagnosis came as a huge surprise! I was an avid runner and participated in many holistic treatments (due to my connection with the spa industry) and originally thought I had pulled a muscle in my back when I first noticed something was wrong. My primary care physician did an exam and prescribed me antibiotics and DID NOT schedule any type of scan. I luckily was working at a medical spa at the time, where I was around nurses and doctors who immediately connected me with a physician who did an exam, biopsy, and a scan all within a five-day period, then BOOM I was diagnosed.
It is unbelievably important to be your own advocate! Push the limits, ask the questions, get multiple opinions and keep your spirits high.
Why do you think raising money for this cause is important?
It’s very important to raise money for this cause because more and more younger people are getting diagnosed with breast cancer and we (they) aren’t getting diagnosed early enough. Awareness, early scans and “what to look out for” are immensely important to get out to the public. This cause can do that!
Why are you so passionate about wanting to put an end to breast cancer?
Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, one passed from it, the other fought it, then passed from colon cancer. This disease is terrible. No one should have to be put through this. I have a 9-year-old son and want him to never have to worry about being diagnosed (men can get breast cancer too), nor do I want him to have a future family member who gets diagnosed.
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about registering to walk or crew?
Sign up! I feel completely taken care of with the Pink Bubble. My coach has connected with me, I’ve attended Zoom meetings and met other walkers, and the wonderful social support with fundraising which has helped me tremendously. It was scary at first, to know I’m walking “alone.” However, I will not be alone. I will be with others who are going through the same experience as I am or have a family member/friend who is fighting cancer and can relate. It’s exciting to be involved in such a big event for a wonderful cause! November can’t come fast enough.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I have spoken publicly on two occasions to bring awareness and fundraising for the American Cancer Society. I feel very blessed to have been asked to share my story. I hope to work more closely with Susan G. Komen and bring awareness for this cause, too!
My high spirits to continue to fight my cancer comes from my 9-year-old son. He is my rock, my love, and my biggest supporter. I must fight this because we both have so much more life to live and experiences to be had! I’m sure he’ll be at the finish line, welcoming me with the biggest smile!
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