Minnesota Mom Of Four Revisits The Day Her Life Changed Forever (LISTEN)
There is a pair of words that no one really wants to talk about, but unfortunately, quite a few people in Minnesota hear it. In fact, 1 in 8 women during their lifetime will hear the devastating statement, "You have breast cancer".
The story doesn't have to end there though. In fact, there are some very brave women who are stepping up to a microphone this month and being a bit vulnerable as they share their own fight against breast cancer.
Meet Cyndie - Breast Cancer Survivor from Plainview, Minnesota
JESSICA - Hey, it is Jessica Williams and this month we are talking about breast cancer. Month and showing our pink showing our support but also giving a safe place for women to have a conversation to share their own stories and gain valuable resources. And one of the stories we are sharing. Why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself?
CYNDIE - I'm Cyndie Kahn. And I am from Plainview, MN.
JESSICA - Do you have any other nicknames?
CYNDIE - The only one I have is Grandma
JESSICA - Awe. How cute. How many grandkids do you have?
CYNDIE - 5.
JESSICA - Let's give them a little bit of fame right now. How old are they?
CYNDIE - The oldest one is 17, and the youngest one is going to be two in February.
JESSICA - Ohh, how fun. Do they live close to you?
CYNDIE - The oldest one lives in Stewartville. The rest of them all live around Plainview.
JESSICA - Well, today we are going to talk about cancer. But before we get into that and some of the challenges that have faced you in life, what is one thing that just brings you a ton of joy? It just fills you up with happiness.
CYNDIE - I love to garden. Gardening is my quiet place. Nobody comes out and bothers me. I think they're afraid I'll put them to work weeding or something. So it's my quiet space where I can just be myself.
JESSICA - Well, I appreciate you coming into the studio. We're not here to talk about your garden, but it is fun to learn about the things that bring you joy, especially when I know you've had some challenges in your life. You were diagnosed with breast cancer. How about describing what that moment was like when you heard that you had cancer?
CYNDIE - I was diagnosed with multifocal invasive carcinoma, and my only thought was, how am I ever going to remember that? I can't tell people this because I can't remember what that name is!
And, I had gone in by myself to meet with the doctor when I knew I was going to get a diagnosis. I was like, no, I don't need anybody. (After) I went out to my car and sat in the parking ramp at Mayo for like 15 minutes and just cried.
My phone kept ringing. My husband's calling me, my best friend's calling me and I didn't pick up the phone. I didn't call them back. I know they were worried, but it was like, no, I don't want to say this out loud. And so, I just waited till I got home and then I think one look at my face and he kind of knew.
JESSICA - You didn't just go into the doctor's office and they told you you had cancer. You actually had a couple of symptoms. You felt something. But it wasn't like, you know when they have us try to find the lump in the example. You said it didn't feel like that. What were the symptoms that you found?
CYNDIE - Yeah, it didn't feel like a lump. I had a little bit of a rash. And then it was kind of mushy, like pudding. So you know, I'm like, well, that's just going to go away. It's just a rash. It'll go away. And I think I waited a good week and a half, maybe even 2 weeks before I even went to the doctor. And then when I even called to make the appointment. I'm like, "I think I might have breast cancer. What should I do now?", cause you just don't know what to do. And so, you know, they made me an appointment. And they immediately said, well, we're going to send you to the clinic. You need a mammogram. We're going to check this out. And I'm thinking, OK, two or three weeks, it's a long time to get into the clinic. And they're like, oh, we got you an appointment for tomorrow.
My first instinct was "no, I'm busy tomorrow". And thank goodness for good doctors because they said "no, this is something you need to do and you're going to go tomorrow". And so I did. And I'm glad I did.
JESSICA - What year was this when you were diagnosed?
CYNDIE - 2006.
JESSICA - I'm not sure I can think back that far up, but was there Google? Did you Google things at that point when you heard you had breast cancer?
CYNDIE - I did not. I had a sister that kept telling me, "well, you need to research this" and I said, "no, my Dr. said to do this" and I listened to my Doctor. I don't want to know all the scary stories that are out there on the internet.
JESSICA - Well, I don't blame you. So 2006, you just found out you have cancer. You are sitting in your car in one of the ramps at Mayo Clinic and you're crying. What is your life like at that moment? What's a snapshot of what you were doing every single day?
CYNDIE - It was busy. I had four kids, the youngest one had just graduated from high school, well the year before, but three of the four were still living at home. I was working a long term. sub at Elgin School for a Para and I drove a school bus. Plus my husband and I have a trucking company, so. It was like crazy.
JESSICA - That is crazy. You just put my schedule to shame and I thought I was busy. So you found out you had cancer, and then the plan comes. Your treatment plan and every seems to have a plan that is a little different. What was yours?
CYNDIE - So I started with surgery. I got the diagnosis like on a Wednesday or Thursday and I had surgery the following Monday. I mean, it was that quick and then after surgery, you know, you have the recovery period. And then I had chemo and so it basically was about a year of treatment. Then you get 5 years of, you know, going back and being checked every time or every six months.
JESSICA - Those follow-up appointments are extremely important for anyone who has experienced cancer. So good job we're going to those. I know that those can be scary too. Now let's talk about the elephant in the room for all of the women who have not done something that they're supposed to, it's called a mammogram. Because of whatever fear they might have or they just don't have enough time, or they hear that it's going to hurt. What would you say to that person?
CYNDIE - I would tell them that it's something important that you do for yourself. I still have trouble making myself schedule my follow-up mammograms but I had a really good friend who knew when my mammograms were due and she would call me and remind me, and then she would arrange that we would go out for lunch after.
So I always tell people, find some way to make that day about you instead of the mammogram. Go out to lunch with a friend or go on a mini shopping spree or something that you've been wanting to do and you haven't done. Do it on that day, so it's more important than just the mammograms. The mammogram is not foremost in your mind the whole time.
JESSICA - That is awesome advice, Cyndie, and I'm actually writing that down right now. And when I have my mammogram, I'm gonna let my husband know I get to go on a shopping spree because Cyndie said so. What an amazing way to look at it and just kind of change our mindset a little bit. Appreciate that.
When someone does hear that they have breast cancer, women... or guys get it too, what is one piece of advice you have for them?
CYNDIE - I think the one thing that I would really encourage people to do is to find a support group. If you can, no matter how great a support system you have at home, if they haven't actually experienced cancer, there are some things you don't want to discuss with them because it's like...this is my family. I don't want to worry them. And you go to a support group and it's not a bunch of cancer people sitting around crying and feeling sorry for themselves. it's very uplifting and you get to talk about things that you're not comfortable talking about to someone that doesn't have cancer. And they give you a whole new insight, especially when you're newly diagnosed. And you might have somebody in a support group that is just finishing treatment and they can tell you what it's like as you move along the path and so that's really good.
And the other thing is, learn how to say no to people. A lot of women that you know are diagnosed with cancer that are moms. They might still be working. They're the support system that holds the family together. And we don't say "no" and so you have to say "no".
And you have to learn how to ask for help. People want to help you. Maybe you just need your floors vacuumed and someone says, how can I help? Well, I haven't been able to vacuum my floors or I can't empty my dishwasher because I had surgery. They're happy to do these little things. They just don't know what you need. They're kind of learning along with you.
JESSICA - People in the Midwest, we are weird. We never want to ask for help. And when you are sick you need help. But we just want to do it all.
CYNDIE - We don't have to be Wonder Woman.
JESSICA - The last fun question for you. We're done with all the hard stuff. You have a shopping spree in front of you, you get to spend thousands like $30,000 at a store in our area. Which one are you going to?
CYNDIE - Wow, that's a lot of money. And I can't spend it all in one store, but I would go to Kirkland's. I love their unique little decorating things.
...side note, EVERYONE has a chance to dream about this shopping spree. Win cash, up to $30.000!
READ MORE: Here's how you can win cash this fall!
JESSICA - Cyndie, thank you for being brave for coming into the studio with me and having this conversation so other women can learn about you, your story and maybe give them some encouragement for some next steps for themselves. Anything else you wanted to add?
CYNDIE - I just want to say thank you for doing this and having us all on the radio.
JESSICA - Appreciate you. Thank you.
Townsquare Media cares about our community. We are sharing the stories of breast cancer survivors all month and you can find those and other helpful resources on our station app all powered by Mosaic Chrysler in Zumbrota, Beyond sales, it's service.