Kimberly Crozier

kim Krozier.JPG

Dave & I have been married 23 years. We have two children -Savannah -13 and TJ - 8. Through the years we have had some rough patches. With all rough patches you say, next year will be different and we can put this all behind us. Little did we know that the next rough patch would truly change everything.

At a routine visit to my gynecologist, she noticed a lump and decided I needed to have a mammogram to rule out any problems. I was 39 at the time. I honestly never even noticed the lump until they pointed it out to me. After the mammogram and sonogram, they told me they wanted me to have a biopsy. I was not the least bit worried. Women do this all the time and it turns out to be nothing. Dave was more worried than I was. I will never forget that call. It was month end at work and Dr. Candy Arentz, who was the surgeon, called to tell me it was cancerous. I completely froze. I couldn't even talk I was so shocked.

And so began the process of appointments and gene tests. We decided to wait on the results of those before scheduling any surgery. We thought the tumor was only about 2.5 cm based on the sonogram and there was really no hurry for surgery. It was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Estrogen Positive. The Genetic report ruled out that I was a gene carrier. That was good news for my family. The standard for my type of cancer and size of tumor was surgery to remove the tumor and radiation to follow. I scheduled the surgery for March 23rd. Three days after my 40th birthday. Seems I could only deal with one thing at a time and turning 40 was a lot.

Once they got into surgery, they realized the tumor was double the size they thought. Because of the size and it also affected the lymph nodes, I now had to have chemo. This was a huge blow. I had already resolved that I would not have to do chemo. I would not have to lose my hair. Losing my hair was a really tough process. I met with oncologist Dr. Jenny Chang in Houston hoping to get an alternative to chemo. Then back to Lubbock to meet with my oncologist Dr. Catherine Jones trying to "get out" of doing chemo. In the end, I knew that it was the right course for me to take. I had two children to raise and wanted to live the best life I could for them.

I remember walking into the chemo room for the first time and I was terrified. I was trying so hard not to cry. I had the most amazing nurse. She looked me right in the eyes and said you are going to be ok. You've got this. And I knew instantly she was right. Once I started chemo, it only took about two weeks for my hair to start falling out. I figured out I was ok with it and just needed to process losing my hair in my own time. I actually let my hairdresser cut it once to minimize the loss. And then one day I woke up and decided I was ready to shave it off. I was so thankful for my hair dresser. We have been friends for so many years and she also lived around the corner from my house. She told me, when you're ready call me and I will do it at the house. I didn't have to go to the salon and worry about who was watching.  Once I decided to shave my head it was such a release. I discovered how easy it was to go anywhere and not have to get my hair ready. I had bought a beautiful wig for work and certain functions, however my hair started growing back just slightly and once it did the wig became very itchy and uncomfortable. I wore lots of colorful head wraps. No scarves for me. Those were too hard to tie.
My husband was there for every single appointment and every single treatment. He even shaved his head into a mohawk that he dyed pink. I could not have done it without him. My mom was there to take my kids on the weekends when I had treatment so that they didn't have to sit around the house. My dad was there to help with the kids and cook meals for us. I actually tolerated the chemo very well. I had minimal side effects and I was able to function pretty normally between the hard treatments. I was really blessed to have a job where I was able to work from home on the day of chemo and the day after. Then I had the weekend to recoup and be back on Monday. I had chemo from May to September. In September, my wonderful sister in law took me to the Bahamas for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Right after I finished chemo, t found out my company was selling. I was keeping my job, but my wonderful coworkers who had been so supportive, would not keep their jobs. This was another transition in my stressful year. It ended up working out and I am happy with the way the new company has evolved.

October, I started radiation and finished the week of Thanksgiving. This was something to truly be thankful for.

I remember when it was time to get my port out I was so ready. I didn't even realize what a relief it was until it was out. I could just feel this huge weight lifted off of me that I could close off one piece of the journey. I could truly move forward with the feeling that we are at the end of this chapter. The next chapter is to stay on the Tamoxifen and monitor.

The year after my diagnosis, Dave had to have a hip replacement. He went through a lot of pain the year I was diagnosed because he wanted me to get well first. He didn't even know that's he was headed for a huge battle as well. Between his health struggle and mine, it truly changed our perspective on life and how we are living it. Through this process I told myself it is only one year of hard times to be able to be there for my kids for a lifetime. I am thankful every day to be here and be healthy.