Holly Smith

 

 

I’ll never forget that moment, the day I heard, “This is highly suggestive of malignancy, and you need to get a biopsy immediately,” those words echoed in my ears. It was just a month after celebrating my 40th birthday and my husband, Seamus and daughter, Ally, who was 10 at the time, and I had just returned from an incredible ski/boarding trip in Colorado, and I was feeling great. Little did I know.

On January 8, 2020, I went in for my routine mammogram and was told something looked odd and they wanted me to stay for an ultrasound. The ultrasound took over 30 minutes and I knew something was wrong. The radiologist came in to tell me that all of the images were showing a large mass that was highly suggestive of malignancy and I was urged to undergo an immediate biopsy.

I spent the rest of the day in a blur scheduling multiple appointments at the University of Kansas Health System, which led to a marathon of 8 hours filled with biopsies and tests. On Jan. 16, 2020, I got the call, while sitting at my desk at work, that the results were back and I had Stage 2b, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) in my right breast that was hormone positive and HER2 positive and it was aggressive.  It was also in my lymph node. That call immediately sent me and my family into a tailspin, but we were armed with information and great doctors that had a plan.

The plan was 6 rounds of chemo initially, a double mastectomy, 30 days of radiation, and then 14 more rounds of chemo that were slightly easier to tolerate. The day after the Chiefs won the Superbowl in 2020, I had surgery to put in a port to receive chemo treatments. That was the moment it all hit me; I had cancer.

The initial rounds of chemo were over 7 hours long each and took a toll on me and after the 2nd round, I had more days of feeling bad than I did good.  As I was about to receive my 3rd round in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was announced and then our tailspin got worse!  This same week, I also received a message from my insurance company and the treatment center that the chemo costs were being denied and I went into a panic. I had no idea what I was going to do because each infusion itself was over $100,000 and I had just started.  Not to mention, I had cancer and the world was shutting down with the pandemic!  Fortunately for me and my family, it was a mistake and everything was cleared through my insurance so I could stay with KU and receive all necessary treatments. This process took over 2 weeks and I was on a horrible rollercoaster that entire time trying to decide what to do while feeling the effects of my 3rd chemo infusion. It made me appreciate the fact that people are faced with making decisions for their lives without all the resources and that so many aren’t able to receive necessary treatments that, among so many other reasons, is why this cause of raising money for underinsured or uninsured patients is so important to me. No one should have to make decisions about their lives without adequate resources.

I completed my initial chemo treatments successfully in May 2020 and my additional chemo (Kadcyla) by May 2021.  I rang those bells as hard as I could!  I had to have a total of 5 breast surgeries because my body was weak and I had developed a bad infection after my first surgery that required additional surgeries.  I continue to see my doctors every 6 months but I am so thankful that I am on the other side of this journey and there is no evidence of cancer. I am beyond grateful to be hitting the 4-year no evidence of cancer mark this year and so thankful for all of the support I received and continue to receive from everyone in my life.

 

 

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Bra Couture® KC

We raise funds for uninsured/underinsured cancer patients in the greater Kansas City area who cannot pay for their cancer supplies such as cancer medication, transportation to treatment, prosthetics, wigs, surgical supplies, lymphedema services and garments, and their basic life expenses during treatment. Serving men, women, and children touched by all cancers, our annual event uniquely celebrates breast cancer survivors to raise funds for Kansas City area organizations who are aligned with our mission. Click here to learn more about who we help.

Bra Couture® KC

We raise funds for uninsured/underinsured cancer patients in the greater Kansas City area who cannot pay for their cancer supplies such as cancer medication, transportation to treatment, prosthetics, wigs, surgical supplies, lymphedema services and garments, and their basic life expenses during treatment. Serving men, women, and children touched by all cancers, our annual event uniquely celebrates breast cancer survivors to raise funds for Kansas City area organizations who are aligned with our mission. Click here to learn more about who we help.