Kathy Eagan’s 40th birthday was a time to celebrate, get ready for the upcoming school year for her three children and cheer on her favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers. At this milestone in her life, Kathy never thought of breast cancer – even though her grandmother and father had it. “I imagined I might get it in my 60s or 70s. When I was diagnosed, I thought, ‘Well, the forties aren’t what they’re cracked up to be!’”
During a self breast exam, Kathy discovered a lump under her arm. A breast MRI at Park Nicollet Cancer Center showed a tumor in her breast. When two rounds of chemotherapy did not shrink her cancer, Kathy had a double mastectomy at the age of 41.
“When I was first diagnosed, I just wanted it to be over so I could move on.” she remembers.
But the cancer spread.
“When they found cancer in my bones, I knew it would never be over.”
“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of Kathy’s beloved Green Bay Packers, once said. Kathy approaches the long road ahead with the same focus and determination. “A lot of this is mental attitude,” she says. “I live every day the best way I can.”
Kathy isn’t alone on her journey. Jane Brattain Breast Center is a source of empowerment and support. With its innovative care, clinical nurse specialists, boutique with products for breast cancer survivors and lending library, Kathy calls the center “common ground … everyone there knows us, knows where we’re coming from and helps us to get what we need.”
Kathy is grateful for the support she receives, and gives. “When you find out you have cancer, it’s amazing how many people come to you as a resource. People search each other out.” Which has helped her realize the truth of another of Coach Lombardi’s famous sayings: “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
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