Valentine’s Day is typically associated with deliveries of roses or chocolates, but on February 14, 2013, Kris West was given something no one wants: a cancer diagnosis. Before her diagnosis, she had been anemic and tired, but there were no lumps or bumps evident in her breasts. Regular mammograms had not shown any areas of concern. But an MRI revealed metastatic invasive lobular carcinoma.
“The first doctor who treated me before Minnesota Oncology gave me a sheet of paper that said most women with this diagnosis live seven years,” said West, a mother of three and director of marketing and technology for Stone Bridge Capital Advisors in Saint Paul. “And then I was told I had probably already had it for five years.”
West decided to seek treatment at Minnesota Oncology where she was introduced to Dr. Stuart Bloom at our Minneapolis Clinic. “I needed someone with a positive attitude,” says the 47-year-old. “You have to find the right person for you.”
After her diagnosis, West underwent three surgeries in nine months, including a double mastectomy.
“They removed three lymph nodes on one side and two on the other,” she says. She has been on hormone therapy including Tamoxafin and Xgeva injections to strengthen her bones after bone metastasis, and she is also being treated at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, where she is participating in clinical trials.
“When I first began treatment in February of 2013, my tumor marker was 188, and now it is 42.7!” West happily reports. “The hardest part is that I don’t look sick, so everyone forgets how tired I am.” She was also recently diagnosed with arthritis, which can be triggered by changes in hormone levels.
Despite the challenges of the past year and a half, West has already participated in Race for the Cure in May and is looking forward to completing the 5K Hope in Motion course with her husband and hundreds of other survivors and supporters.