by ANDRES GARCIA/South Kern Sol
ARVIN– When Arvin High School history teacher Kimberly Lee first found out she had breast cancer, she thought of the word ‘death.’
It was a day after Ash Wednesday 2011 when she received the heartbreaking news.
The cancer wasn’t genetic and the BRAC tests proved her theory correct. In devastation, she decided not to go to school for a couple of days. When getting the courage to go back to school, she told her students about it.
“All the students were so supportive,” she said, with a smile. “Whether it had been students walking in and giving me pink balloons, students dressed in pink, or even just buying the bracelets saying ‘WE LOVE MISS LEE’. I just loved every bit of it.”
She started to go through Chemo Therapy around the end of the school year. Lee had a choice between a Lumpectomy, going under surgery to remove the tumor, or a Mastectomy, bilateral surgery to remove both breasts.
“It’s always better to know what your choices are before you jump to one,” she said. “I chose the Mastectomy because my doctor told me that even though they get rid of the tumor from the breast that has it, there is a 90 percent chance that it could come back in my other breast.”
Since her recent discovery, Miss Lee has learned to appreciate everything in life and not take anything for granted.
“Prioritizing important decisions and not worrying about the little things is what I am going to do now,” she said, soberly.
Not just seeing the bad in diagnosis, it has encouraged her to advocate for breast cancer survivors.
“I have a responsibilty. I am the face of cancer for young people and students. Especially the students because they have probably never met anyone with breast cancer,” she said. “All the advice I have to give to those that have recently discovered they have breast cancer is to listen to your doctors. Everything will be OK because you will survive.”
Currently, Lee has joined the “Links For Life” support group.
“I am considered the young’un of the group even though I am almost 40, the other women are above the age of 50. All we do is support one another and talk about the issues we are facing,” she said. “Whether they are new to the whole cancer situation or have been with cancer for over 20 years, we all learn knew things about ourselves and ways to get out of our depressive state of mind.”