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Health & Breast Cancer

Kendra Figueroa


I have to start my story with an event the happened before my cancer diagnosis. In 2012 I was training for a 1/2 ironman, which is a triathlon. At this point in my life I was a little obsessed to fitness! My whole life, I have always struggled with my weight. 7 years ago, on April 18, 2012. My big event of the year was in 5 months. Crazy Kendra had already ridden 50 miles earlier that day. Once my husband was home from work, we were going on a “easy bike ride” which was about 20 miles. About 2 miles from home, There was an object in the bike lane, I didn’t see it. Next thing I know I’m waking up Denver Health in Denver, I didn’t know what was going on, or what day it was. In summary I was very confused what was happening and why I had to be in that place. Backing up, I’ve been told that I flipped over my bike and landed on my head and yes, I did have an excellent helmet on. The EMT’s determined that I was unconscious. So protocol was to take me to a level 1 trauma center. I hear that I was mostly unconscious for 4 days.

I woke up, but soon after I left the ICU, I went back to the ICU. I don’t remember much of any of my 23 day hospital stay. I do remember my husband and my mom between the two of them were there for me almost the whole stay. I didn’t understand why I was there. I had a marathon to run 2 weeks after my accident, so I was mad I was stuck in the hospital. My injury caused my brain much trauma, I was diagnosed with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury or in short a TBI.

Over the next two years, with 2 different cognitive therapists and an eye surgery, I slowly became more productive. I had and still have to relearn words, activities and how to talk. Then and now I still have watch how I speak to others. In April 2014, I was able to return to the same job that I left so suddenly back in April 2012.

In June of 2015, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. By September it was determined that I have stage 4 breast cancer

So I had a double mastectomy and then began chemo and radiation. I had to quit my job once again. But my attitude was different this time. I knew that whatever came my way, I could handle it. Don’t get me wrong, I had my times of frustration and discouragement. But my attitude was very different from my TBI accident.

Once again my husband and my mom were there for me all the time. My husband get’s the super husband award because he went to all my chemo treatments and my appointments with my oncologist. Still today he goes with me to see my oncologist every 3 months.

For me, the years after treatment is more difficult than the time during treatment. I’ve had 5 reconstruction surgeries. I can’t work right now and maybe never, the chemo ended up worsening my brain. I get lonely but I do have friends and a wonderful mother who I can be with during the day. My husband is my best friend, but he works to provide for us. I get very overwhelmed, I get panic attacks and I still mess up my words all the time.

I am again in Cognitive therapy. My therapist told me, she can’t necessarily help me get better. She said that she can give me the tools I need to manage my disability. I have been doing Cyclebar cycling class and I started running 5k races. When I exercise, I feel like I used to before all these things happened. I may not ever get back to where I was in the athletic side of my life. It’s ok. This is my new normal. My marriage is strong and my boys are doing well in college. My parents are healthy. Who knows what my future holds with my cancer. I continue on two chemotherapy oral medicines. I am thankful for every day.


 

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