Read article at Chicago Woman Magazine: http://chicago-woman.com/profiles/mover-shaker-Kim-Whitehouse/
BCA Month Mover & Shaker: Kim Whitehouse
Kim Whitehouse, founder of Send A Smile Today, celebrates her 5th year cancer-free from a 2011 breast cancer diagnosis. This month, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, she reflects upon the journey she took while overcoming cancer.
by Morgan Forst
October 11, 2016 3:00 PM
How was the cancer initially detected?
I felt the lump myself. Periodically, I would do self-breast exams so I knew what my “normal” felt like. When I pressed kind of hard in one spot I felt something small and hard pea sized in my right breast. I did not feel the same thing on my left breast. I knew what I felt could be cancer because in a prior year’s health class, the nurse passed around a breast prosthetic with tiny beads inside so we could feel what breast cancer felt like. What I felt in my breast that day felt like that prosthetic. I was only 38 and had not yet had my first mammogram. I had no family history of cancer. I was in shock when after a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy concluded, it was Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma… breast cancer.
How did you feel when you first received the diagnosis of breast cancer?
I was scared, frightened and worried. My hand was shaking as I wrote down every word my doctor told me on the phone call that day. I cried. I knew other people who had died of breast cancer and I couldn’t get those thoughts out of my head. My children were just 6 and 9 at the time and the thought of not being around for them or for my husband was devastating. I never felt alone when I was first diagnosed. This is why I wanted to be part of the Ford Warriors in Pink program. Not only do I want to help support the other Ford Models of Courage, but I want to help those recently diagnosed or living with cancer. Some cancer patients might not have the strong support system like I had. Thankfully, there are great resources like Ford Cares in place to help those with breast cancer. Two years after my diagnosis, I felt a strong passion to give back to other cancer patients and to let them know they are never alone. In 2014, I founded non-profit Send A Smile Today. Send A Smile Today provides hope, love and support to those with cancer by mailing uplifting greeting cards monthly to anyone with cancer.
What message would you like to provide women in the community about breast cancer?
My message is to let other women with cancer know they are never alone. Others have gone through the same thing as you. Cancer survivors have many successful positive stories to share. Do not let the negative stories you may hear from others get to your soul – they will destroy your inner peace and strength. Remain focused. Take it one day at a time. Live a healthy lifestyle so you can say you are doing everything you can to make sure the cancer stays away and never returns. Reach out to support resources like Ford Cares where you will receive the support to make it through the weeks and months ahead. Set small goals and celebrate when you reach each and every one.