Day 21: Robin Kirkley is a 5 year survivor of Triple Negative breast cancer! After her cancer treatment, she took up the cause of improving health and fitness in herself and others and started Fairwinds Fitness and Health, with her husband. They spend their time as personal coaches helping people to achieve their diet and fitness goals. Here is a little of her story:
I have been married to my wonderful husband for over 33 years. We have 4 grown children and a 2 lovely daughter-in-laws and a wonderful son-in-law. In 2012, just before my 49th birthday, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. My world was turned upside down over night. I had chemo, a double mastectomy, more chemo and then 6 weeks of radiation. I then had 1 more serious reconstruction surgery followed by two minor surgeries. My already slowed down metabolism took a bigger hit when chemo thrust me into menopause over night. Breast cancer stole my hair, my breasts, my energy and my flexibility. I ate lots of comfort foods and had trouble fitting in exercise with my work schedule and long commute. One day, after chemo and surgery I dared to step on the scale and it said that I had gained 30 pounds! Yikes! I started to be a little more careful about my diet and tried to move a little more. I went to physical therapy which helped with my activity level, range of motion and flexibility. In March of 2014, I started a roller coaster of weight loss that never really satisfied me. When my high school classmate shared her weight loss journey on Facebook, and invited me to be in a Challenge group, I was desperate to try something new….I lost over 9 inches. More importantly, I feel great and I am happy when I look in the mirror. My energy is greater than it has been in a very long time. I am stronger and much more flexible.
The top two controllable risk factors of breast cancer are diet and exercise. For women who are triple negative, after treatment is over, there are no other therapies such as Tamoxifen or Arimidex (hormone therapies taken by those who have hormone positive cancers), that can be taken to reduce the risk of recurrence. We have to rely solely on the treatment given to us to eradicate the disease, (triple negative cancers generally respond well to chemotherapy) and the controllable factors. Diet and exercise also helps with alleviating some of the effects of cancer treatment. The good news is that when people like Robin make it to 5 years cancer free, the risk of recurrence drops to being the same as those who were diagnosed with hormone positive disease. Please donate today and help Robin celebrate her 5 years and to help researchers continue to find better ways to prevent recurrence of triple negative breast cancer.