By Joe Bachman
“You find out who your family is.”
Words from 49-year-old cancer survivor and Rudolph resident Kristine Minch as she recalled her dramatic experience over the past year in her fight against breast cancer.
It all started last October after a routine mammogram when Minch received a phone call, and devastating news — doctors had found a mass. A biopsy would quickly follow, thus starting Kris down the long and winding path to recovery.
A few days later, a second call from a physician would make that same path to recovery that much tougher to deal with, as he informed Minch that she had cancer. Right away, an appointment was made to have surgery to take out the mass.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster,” said Minch, regarding the speed of the process. However, Kristine wasn’t without support, and while she emotionally prepped herself for surgery, her husband, Mike, was educating himself.
“You got to have two people when you’re doing this,” said Mike, “She wasn’t hearing anything but ‘cancer, cancer’ — so the first thing I did was started reading.”
Mike educated himself through internet forums where he made contact directly with other cancer survivors and partners who shared similar experiences. Through this, he learned vital information about the nature of Kristine’s cancer, and in collaboration with doctors, helped steer her recovery.
Soon after the surgery which removed the mass, Kristine started chemotherapy, and would go a total of four different times.
“The first one [treatment] was the hardest one,” said Kristine, I got really sick and I lost my hair.”
However, her husband Mike served as a source of strength, and kept the power of positivity at full sail.
“We knew where we were, we knew it was early, we knew from surgery that it [cancer] wasn’t in her lymph-nodes — so you kind of got over that initial fear,” said Mike. “Everything was positive.”
Kristine also had to go for radiation treatment a total of 28 times at the Riverview UW-Cancer Center in Wisconsin Rapids.
“The girls [nurses] in radiation were like a little family, and they still are,” said Kris. “They’re just awesome.”
After surgery, chemotherapy, and dozens of radiation treatments, it wasn’t until Kristine’s latest mammogram this month that she found out she was truly cancer-free and finally found relief.
“I found that it’s just overwhelming some days just to sit there and think about it,” said Kristine. “I look back on the last year, and for what I went through, I feel good about what I had to go through.”
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information on preventative measures and ways you can help the fight against breast cancer, please visit the Aspirus Riverview UW Cancer Center, or call 715-421-7442.