Breast Cancer Can Affect Anyone
My name is Heidi Kirby. (Photo L to R: Dr. Sandra Swain, former medical director of Washington Cancer Institute and current Associate Dean for Research Development at Georgetown University Medical Center and Heidi) I am young. I am healthy. I have no family history of breast cancer, yet, somehow I found myself with the phone against my ear, being told that's what I had. For anyone touched by this disease, you know how powerless you can feel. For anyone being told they have cancer, it takes your breath away.
My story is nothing special. In fact, my story happens every day and can happen to anyone at any age. When I first felt something different in 2014, I was preparing to run in the annual Race to Beat Cancer 5K, sponsored by my former employer, The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. All the proceeds benefit cancer research at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I was focused on the run, therefore not that concerned. But when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of that year, I went from denial to anger and back to denial over and over. During this stressful period, I reached out to my close work family, and because of their long-standing relationship with the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, I was put in touch with an oncologist so that I could start treatment right away. The wonderful doctors and medical professionals were determined to make me well. I'm happy to say that I am now cancer free and I know that my risk of recurrence is low.
Advances in Breast Cancer Treatment
I'm constantly amazed by the advances in cancer research, science and technology. I recently learned the Washington Cancer Institute at the Hospital Center offers intraoperative radiation therapy for a select group of breast cancer patients with small tumors, in which a single dose of radiation is delivered after lumpectomy, as opposed to standard radiation treatment over several weeks. In addition, physicians are studying chemotherapy–free options for metastatic breast cancer patients. Progress like this is possible thanks in large part to public and private donations.
I never imagined having to ask so many people to help me. I never thought I would celebrate a genetic test result. Of course, I never thought I would need a genetic test at all. The simple part of my story is this: I'm going to live and love longer because so many people who I’ll never meet selflessly gave their time and resources - to beat this disease.
Contribute to Breast Cancer Research
I will continue to support the annual Race to Beat Cancer 5K, and the ongoing fundraising efforts of the wonderful volunteers and donors who support cancer research at the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I urge everyone to sign up for this year’s race. There’s also the annual Drive Four the Cure Golf Classic at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, which is another opportunity to support the Washington Cancer Institute's cause. Together, we must continue to fight this disease so that we give friends, family, colleagues and many others the same opportunity!