READER REPORT:

Breast cancer changed me for the better

KARA SKAFLESTAD
Last updated 08:00 17/01/2014
Kara Skaflestad
FIGHTING PRETTY: Kara Skaflestad during the various stages of her cancer treatment and recovery.

Breast cancer battle scars

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Breast cancer battle scars

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At 26 I was living my life as a single girl in New York City.

I had recently starting talking to a boy named Nate. On December 7, Nate and I went on our first date, and it was amazing.

For the next week, I had several doctor's appointments and kept breaking dates with Nate.

He kept thinking I was upset with him but little did he know I was with my mother and my sister trying to make sure I did not have breast cancer.

Just one week later, on December 12, I was diagnosed with Stage 4, Her2+, Estrogen Receptive, Non-BRCCA gene breast cancer.

So, that same day, I broke my date with Nate yet again.

I told him to come over to my apartment on Sunday to talk. This would be the first time he'd come to my home.

He came in, sat down on the couch and I was so nervous. I probably drank half of a bottle of wine before he got there.

Finally, with my chin quivering, I worked up the courage to tell him I had breast cancer. He looked at me and he put his hand right on top of my hand and asked: "What do we do next?"

Now we call him Nate the Great.

After that day, my life was completely turned around and upside down.

I had a double mastectomy with lymph node removal.

Then, because I was 26, they recommended egg retrieval.

Next came eight rounds of chemotherapy - hair loss, no appetite, heavy coma-like sleeping, but beautiful skin! My skin was so clear. And who knew I had such a round head? Who knew I looked so good in a blonde wig?

During chemotherapy, I had the process of getting my tissue expanders pumped, and then came the exchange surgery where they put in my silicone implants.

After that came the radiation, and the horrible and uncomfortable skin effects.

And finally, the year-long Herceptin treatments.

Five years later I'm still on tamoxifen, fighting off any cancer cells that think they want to stick around.

Looking back on it all, I realise this changed my life, all for the better.

I am engaged to Nate the Great and have started a nonprofit organisation called Fighting Pretty to help women feel strong and beautiful during cancer treatment.

The goal is to treat the emotional side effects of cancer and get women back on their feet feeling beautiful, strong and amazing, even while battling cancer.

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Looking back on the last five years I know that I have been Fighting Pretty every step of the way, and I encourage every woman out there to do the same.

You will grow through your cancer journey and come out the other end inspired, strong and amazing. 


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