Over the years, Kerri Stevens, 52, had grown accustomed to having multiple suspicious-looking breast lumps biopsied. “I have dense breasts,” said the administrative assistant, referring to fibrous connective and glandular breast tissue that makes it more difficult to spot a cancer on a mammogram. “They [the lumps] were always benign.”
So when she felt a lump in her right breast in April 2018, Kerri was unconcerned.
When the lump had not resolved, the mother of two decided to get it checked “for the heck of it.” A couple of weeks later her doctor called with disconcerting news. The “benign” lump was actually stage II invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast, a cancer of the milk duct that has spread to the rest of the breast. “...All I remember is my whole body going numb and I felt like I was in some sort of tunnel,” recalled Kerri.
Her journey to wellness has not been easy. Following reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy, Kerri endured multiple hospitalizations for an infection at the surgical site.
Chemotherapy infusions tested her resolve, as well. Kerri continues to suffer from chemotherapy-induced brain fog or memory problems and an inability to focus, along with neuropathy that damaged the nerves in her feet, causing numbness, pain and tingling when she walks.
“I chose from the start to stay positive and fight with everything that I had within me. I struggled, laughed, cried, prayed and most of all, stayed steadfast and determined to beat this cancer...” said Kerri, who has been cancer-free for three years.
The disease Kerri wishes “never happened” has taught her life lessons. “Suffering from cancer and going through treatments does not end like a light switch,” she says. “The aftermath is there forever, and there is a journey of healing, acceptance, understanding and hope.”