Karin Heath

Braving the Battle

While a 40th birthday is a milestone moment in many women’s lives, Karin Heath couldn’t prepare herself for what hers would bring—a diagnosis of breast cancer. With quick action and a round of radiation Karin found herself cancer free, but exactly fifteen years later, she would come face to face with her second bout of breast cancer. After chemo, a slew of operations, and ongoing medical battles, Karin is still dealing with the aftermath nearly 9 years after her second diagnosis. But she has not let her battle with cancer defeat her spirits. In fact, she’s channeled her hardships into helping others. Karin turned to dedicate herself to the community and has never looked back, with her involvement spanning organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Home of Stockton, Hospice of San Joaquin, and countless others. She is now a pillar of the community, lending a hand anywhere that’s needed, and working tirelessly to ensure that women facing the same battle have the resources they need. Karin shares with us her advice on braving the battle with breast cancer, and in it lies lessons for all of us.

Find your light.

“There has to be something out there that makes you feel good. A few years after getting diagnosed, something just snapped inside of me and said you can not be a bump on a log, you were granted a third lease on life, you need to make the most of it. And that’s when I thought to myself, ‘I want to go out and help somebody.”

Talk about it.

“Your family is scared. It’s the unknown, and it’s difficult for them to comprehend. Talk about it at home and take [your family] into the hospital and have them educated on everything that is being done in terms that they can really understand.”

Ask for help.

“Don’t do it alone. As strong as you are, ask for help and let yourself be vulnerable. My husband, Mike, was my primary caregiver and I couldn’t have survived without his love and compassion. Whether you need the spiritual advice, the best friend, the neighbor, be sure to make people aware of what you’re going through. Ask, ‘Do you mind if I call you if I need to talk to somebody?’ It’s amazing, the humanity and goodness that people have in them when you ask them for help. It’s absolutely incredible.”

Ask questions.

“Any question is not a stupid question. Trust your medical team and ask questions. Make sure your team is explaining everything in layman’s language and don’t be afraid to ask them for clarification to make sure you understand everything.”

Be prepared.

“I wasn’t expecting all the complications I had or to feel so low. The awareness is out there for breast cancer, but the education for the women and families for what happens afterward is lacking. Be sure you talk to people and find what support and resources you have during the process and after.”

Stay positive.

“Do not go down that dark rabbit hole, because once you do it’s tough to climb out. It’s a battle each day, but you pull from within, and somehow you find the strength- day, by day, by day.”


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