The odds were in Kim Tierney’s favor.
In December, the then-40-year-old had her first mammogram. After a few weeks, she was called and told she needed to have a second one due to a small cluster, she said.
In January, she had a second mammogram and a biopsy.
“There was a 5 percent chance it was anything,” she said. “So I was feeling pretty good about it.”
Then the next day came the call. She had been diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer. The cancer was contained to a duct and hadn’t spread out into the tissue, she said.
When she found out the news, she was with two of her children who were getting haircuts, including the youngest daughter.
“You always think the worst anytime you hear cancer, that it’s a death sentence or you feel like that but you don’t know,” she said. “My thing was, ‘Is she going to remember me?’”
After additional testing determined that the cancer was contained only to that spot, she was presented with many options.
She decided to have a double mastectomy so that she wouldn’t have to worry about breast cancer again.
“I didn’t want to be a two-time (survivor),” she said, adding that she was also thinking of her children. “I was going to be done. I didn’t want to be living in fear. I didn’t regret my decision.”
She had the surgery in February and had reconstruction surgery about a month ago.
Over the past several months, she and her family tried to keep things as normal as possible by participating in family activities and vacations and spending time with each other.
“There was also lots of praying, crying,” she said. “You have to have a great support system in place. If you don’t have that, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like.”
She also encourages others to have mammograms and not put it off. If a second one is recommended, do it.
“You have to be proactive,” she said. “I have no family history of breast cancer. Five percent, five percent I was told that it could be anything. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can.”
She also encourages those who are currently battling breast cancer to remain strong and that soon they’ll be able to look back at the journey and say “I did it,” she said.
“You got to do what you got to do. It will be over soon,” she said. “There is an end to it, it doesn’t seem like it now, but there is.”