One Face, One Voice: Kim Crist’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Story

Guest Post By: Kim Crist

 

After I finished treatment for early stage breast cancer, I never considered that I was in remission. I told everyone I was cured. The doctors told me after four months of chemotherapy and 40 rounds of radiation that I would be just fine. It took me a long time to really believe that I was going to be okay. For years, I couldn’t drive by my oncologist’s office without having that “sick to my stomach, I had just had chemo” feeling. But the nauseating fears were finally gone when I hit the five-year mark. I remember driving by my doctor’s office and realized I didn’t think about my cancer. I had finally let go of my fears and realized I really did beat this.

It turns out there is no way to know if you have a cancer cell tucked away. It was almost 10 years after my first diagnosis that I was diagnosed with Metastatic, or stage four, disease. They say if you go five or 10 years, you’ve beat it… I thought I was home free. Not one doctor told me the true statistics for recurrence. If I had known, maybe I would have been more diligent in taking my estrogen blocker. Maybe I would have done more research at the time. Perhaps I would have known what symptoms to look out for. The maybes, the what ifs take a toll.

Funny thing is, I thought I was taking care of myself. I worked out and lifted weights, I took exercise classes. I even thought I was doing too much because on two separate occasions I ended up in the ER with crippling back pain. I had to actually leave during the middle of a workout class. Each time being sent home with pain meds and muscle relaxers. Not one doctor asked about a cancer history.

It wasn’t until a routine yearly blood work and oncologist visit to get my mammogram prescription that my doctor saw a rise in my tumor markers…the results you have figured out. What does this diagnosis mean; Metastatic Breast Cancer?? As far as I’m concerned Metastatic disease is a polite way of saying you have stage IV cancer. Stage IV?? We get it now. At least one would think so.

I believe Susan G. Komen is a wonderful platform. We have so much information to share and research left to be done. Walking and raising money allows me to share my story and hopefully teach someone else what to look out for and what questions to ask. Why didn’t those doctors know to ask if I had a history of cancer? Why didn’t I know that bones are the most likely place for initial metastasis? Why didn’t I think to, or better yet, why didn’t I know to ask for an MRI over an X-ray? X-rays don’t show cancer. This is important information that I wish I had known and needs to be shared.

“We need to laugh. We need to laugh at ourselves”

Now, people ask me, “Are you in remission? You’ll be cured, right? Are you done with your medicine?” The answer? No, no and no. They ask, things like, “how long will your medicine work?” Until it doesn’t. Then I’ll find another drug. All in hopes of going another three months praying and stressing that the next scan is stable. I can live with it in my bones, I dread the day it attacks my organs.

Right now, there is no time for being sick and no time for stinky thinking. No time for rest. Now is the time for faith and giving back. Being a Susan G. Komen walker and super supporter has given me an opportunity to talk to people from all over the country. The 3-Day brings together a large community of fighters, survivors and the surviving.

As a 14-year walker I’ve not only seen the impact we have made in research, but I’m living

proof. Coming up on five years, I would have never thought I’d have the quality of life that I do. My bones are weakened by the cancer slowly eating away at it, but now there is a simple shot I take every quarter to keep me strong. My freedom and quality come from not being stuck in a chemo chair. Breakthroughs have happened!! But we have to keep working.

“It’s important to keep your strength and be out in nature”

Thank you, Susan G. Komen, thank you fellow supporters, sponsors and researchers. This walker will never give up and I will never give in.

Learn more about Metastatic Breast Cancer. If you or a loved one has questions or needs support, please call 1-877-GO KOMEN.

 

Official Sponsor of the 3-Day®

3-Day Philadelphia Route Preview

We can’t believe it’s already October! That means it’s time to head to the East Coast for our Philly 3-Day. It’s going to be an amazing three days of walking, having fun, and making memories. Our 3-Day team can’t wait to host our walkers, crew, volunteers and supporters for a wonderful weekend together! But, before you pack your bags, Event Manager Melanie Toner is giving us a sneak peak of what to expect.

“We’re thrilled to bring back much of the route that people loved last year,” Melanie enthuses. “We’ve tried hard to continue to highlight new areas of the city, so you can see different parts of Philadelphia each day. If you loved last year’s route, you will be happy again this year.”

We will once again begin our journey with our Opening Ceremony at our hotel camp, the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. We are so excited to be back at the location that was so lovely to our 3-Dayers last year.

Plus, as Melanie reminded us, “The hotel is right on the water, so it’s really beautiful!”

After the Opening Ceremony, walkers will head west across the city through historic areas of Philadelphia to University City. We will go through Rittenhouse Square early in the day, which Melanie promises is gorgeous!

Other highlights are the “Please Touch” Museum and an amazing cheering station at Smith Memorial Playground. The afternoon will also include a walk along the picturesque Concourse Lake Trail, which also has its own cheering station.

At the end of the day, walkers will return to our 3-Day hotel camp at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. Camp is indoors again this year, and the extra comfort that provides will be the perfect end to both Friday and Saturday’s walks. Melanie is also glad for the comfort of the hotel, given that Philadelphia’s weather can be a little unpredictable in the fall.

“We are putting out good vibes to Mother Nature for continued good weather! But, just in case, we are glad to be able to offer a comfy hotel bed to keep you warm, dry and well rested again in 2019.”

There will be lots of similar sights to those in years past on Day Two, including a stop at the Liberty Bell within the first mile of the day. There will also be tons of community support out on the route, including a cheering station at the Gillin Boathouse.

We will also be stopping right in front of the Philly Museum of Art. That means you can celebrate Saturday with a photo op at the Rocky statue! The Philadelphia Zoo is also once again supporting 3-Dayers on Day Two. You can also expect some surprises throughout the weekend to make this weekend extra fun!

And then Sunday will be here before you know it! There will be some changes to the Day Three route due to our new closing site on Shoemaker Green at the University of Pennsylvania. Melanie can’t wait to make the most of this new ending location.

“I love it because it’s such an intimate and beautiful site where we can all gather together. The space will make it feel like more of a celebration as we wrap up the event as one community. Plus, it’s at the University of Pennsylvania, and two of the grantees who have benefited from the 3-Day’s fundraising dollars are right in that area as well. The University of Pennsylvania and the Wistar Institute are both Komen grantees, so we are honored to be able to celebrate right next door to those amazing institutions.”

But even with the changes, we will still have all the highlights you know and love, including views of Independence Hall and a cheering station along Broad Street that will put a big Day Three smile on the faces of our walkers. There will also be cheesesteaks at Pat & Geno’s, a walk along the Italian Market and more.

Melanie says, “You will still have all your Philly favorites, just in a different order. We really tried to keep all the elements that our walkers have come to expect and love to see!”

After Pat & Geno’s we will head back north towards the University of Pennsylvania for our Finish Line Festival and Closing Ceremony, where we will be celebrating three glorious days, and 60 difference-making miles under the Philadelphia sun!

Melanie encourages our Philadelphia 3-Dayers to soak in every moment of the weekend ahead and can’t wait to welcome you all to the City of Brotherly Love.

“I want everyone to feel proud of what we have done here. I was the first Philadelphia staff member hired back in 2004, and it has been so amazing to see this walk come full circle this year. I feel so much pride and I want all our participants to feel that way, too. We have given people hope and inspiration at a time in their lives that could have been very dark. We have worked so hard and we have so much to be proud of. We can not thank the people and city of Philadelphia enough.”

10 Ways to Update Your 3-Day Training as the Weather Cools

Last month was the official start of Fall, and now October is here! Where has the time gone? But we still have three more 3-Day walks ahead for the year, and we know that many of you are kicking your training into high gear for these final weeks. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, your training plans need to change with the season. There are a few simple steps you can take to make your fall training safer and more productive.

Tip 1 — Plan ahead: Temperature isn’t the only thing you should be monitoring as fall and winter arrive. You should also look out for rain and/or fog in the forecast. Plan your route for places you know well, and that have areas to step off the route for a rest or to seek shelter if rain begins.

Tip 2 — Increase stretching: Stretch inside before you begin your walk, then do another quick stretch outside right before you start. Finally, don’t forget to stretch when you’re back home and the walk is done! You need to keep your muscles limber and as warm as much as possible.

Tip 3 — Stay in the sunshine while you can: Many parts of the country will have warmer weather for a bit longer, so take advantage while you can! Also, no matter where you live, check the weather for the day to make sure there isn’t rain or snow coming up, and to schedule your walk for when the sun is highest, and the weather is warmest.

Tip 4 — Layer up but keep your layers thin: Avoid bulk that will get annoying as you walk! Instead, dress in multiple layers that you can easily remove if you get warmer. Pack items like a hat or scarf in your pack in case the wind shifts or it gets cooler.

Tip 5 — Don’t forget your fingers and skin: They need to be kept warm, too! People often remember a warmer hat, but don’t forget your gloves. Pack lotion and lip balm for longer walks because your skin will need extra hydration and protection in cooler temps. And don’t forget sunscreen! Even when it’s cold, you still need to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

Tip 6 — Space out your steps: Instead of aiming for much longer walks only once or twice a week, plan your schedule to include more frequent walks with less miles in each one. This will keep you from being outside for longer than necessary.

Tip 7 — Go with your gut: Don’t insist on walking for a set number of times or hours. If you feel too chilly, weather pops up, or you just need to turn back, listen to your body! If need be, you can even pop into the next shop or café you see and order a cab to take you back to your starting point. Don’t push yourself unnecessarily!

Tip 8 — Stay alert: Keeping eyes on the ground and on your surroundings will keep you safe! Many people walk with headphones in, and this is an extra important tip for all of you. From icy patches to big puddles, to cars or snowplows and more… there is a lot to keep an eye out for.

Tip 9 — Hydration is still key: You might not feel thirsty, but you still need to drink and pee! We always remind you of this on the 3-Day but on your training walks, please remember to hydrate even more than you think you do.

Tip 10 — Grab a buddy! Laughter might not technically warm your body, but having a walking partner will warm your heart 😊 They can also track your hydration, help you keep an eye out for traffic or looming rain clouds, and keep you motivated on your walk.

What are your training goals for Fall 2019? Tell us in the comments, and share your tips for making the most of those walks…

For tips about healthy living, click here for advice and support to keep you on track for the 3-Day and beyond. Thanks to the support of Amgen and in partnership with American Bone Health, the Healthy Living series was designed to prepare your mind, body and bones for the 3-Day.