September 2012 Survivor of the Month – Kris Krizman

09-kris“If You Let Them”

Kris Krizman’s Story by Elizabeth H.R. Osterberger


Kris Krizman met me down near the Waving Girl Statue one day for our photo shoot. She was dressed in a super cute dress and has fabulous glasses. I confess, at the time I had not read her survivor story. When I did though, I was SHOCKED at one thing: there is no way she can be telling the truth about her age! I thought she was only a couple of years older than me (I’m 33.)

This is one of those stories that is written so well that I would be doing it an injustice to change it so I’m just going to leave it how it is. I am very glad to have met her and had the opportunity to make some beautiful images of her.
So now, Kris’s story, in her own words:

Now an 8-year survivor!  Diagnosed in March 2004 (at the age of 44) after a routine mammogram – in the midst of several other life-changing experiences and a family death from cancer. Luckily, one of my friends happened to be at my workplace with me when I got the call – otherwise, I would have been alone at one of the scariest times in my life. How could this be – there had been NO history of breast cancer in my very large family! Being a single woman involved in growing a one-year-old business, the cancer word was so shocking and scary – how would my business continue while I was under treatment and who would help take care of me?  I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation to look forward to.

If you let them, friends and family will help in every way they can – even if it’s just taking care of the laundry or phoning the doctors’ offices and fielding calls from loved ones.  I truly had to learn a “lesson in procrastination” as I call it.  Being a woman who tries to do it all – I just couldn’t this time.  People went with me to treatments, made sure I had my favorite snacks to munch on and understood when I had to say “no”.  One of my best friends who was so helpful was at the same time being a care-giver to her Mother with a very advanced stage breast cancer.

Biggest ‘WOW” moment – my “boyfriend” of just over 6 months, who could have made this diagnosis an easy way to bow-out of the relationship, didn’t bail on me!  Not only did he go with me to all of my doctors’ appointments and help me make my treatment decisions, he took me into his home on my “chemo weekends” to care for me – making sure I got plenty of rest and was eating properly.  He even planned a wonderful trip to Hawaii in between my chemo and radiation treatments so I would have something GOOD to look forward to.  (8 rounds of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation)  Happy to say, Kevin is now still my partner of over 9 years! ☺
Knowing that my story has such a good “ending” I often feel like it’s not worth telling since so many women’s stories are more life threatening and life changing than I feel mine is.  I am just so excited, though,  when I get my annual exam to hear the words “all clear”!

Susan G. Komen for the Cure impacted my life with Pink!  The Komen organization has made “pink” a global color of awareness.  Not only have they provided information for survivors/care-givers on breast cancer and raised tons of money to help with the cure – their “awareness” has helped ALL people be more knowledgeable about the disease and who it affects.  They have made me an advocate for early detection and helping all women to have access to mammograms.

Early detection is important!  While genetics plays a big role in your chances of getting breast cancer – you are still at risk.  Get your mammograms regularly and start them young.

I am involved in a couple of organizations to help raise money to cure breast cancer.  Whenever I have an opportunity to “buy pink” for the cause, my dollar bills are out!

In the future, I would like to get involved in making sure our insurance companies don’t raise the age for mammogram coverage – but, in fact, lower it.  So many more young women are being affected – if the age were 50 like in some countries, I might not be here today.  My younger sister (I have 3 older ones as well.) Is participating in a study to see any relationships to our environment and getting breast cancer – should she ever develop it – comparing her results mine.

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