Healthy Living: Breast cancer and best friends
Imagine being a 34-year-old woman, a seasoned triathlete, and no family history of cancer, and finding out that you have cancer. Our Marcie Fraser tell us about a story of a young woman and her best friend, and how she literally helped her through it.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
When times get tough, you find out who your friends are. Somehow you are able to get by with just a little help from your friends, and in this particular case, it was a lot of help. When Kerisa Johnson Chappel felt a painful lump in her chest, she thought little of it, but it was more than she ever expected.
"The rug got pulled out from underneath me," said Kerisa.
An aggressive form of cancer had spread from her breast into her lymph nodes.
"I ended up having a double mastectomy because I figured, I don't need my breasts, and to me, it was a higher chance of getting a reoccurrence in my breast if I had them," Kerisa explained.
She underwent radiation and chemotherapy for a year. The surgery took its toll on though, she had limited range of motion in her arm.
"I developed what they called the axillary web syndrome. Very tough pain when I would try to abduct my arm," noted Kerisa.
Due to the pain and limited range of motion from the surgery, she needed help. This is when her best friend, Kathryn, who happened to be a physical therapist, came into the picture. Kathryn didn't specialize in cancer treatment, but for her best friend, she was willing to give it a try.
"I didn't know much about lymphedema at that point. If I was going to specialize, I started thing about specializing in breast cancer research," said Kathryn Taylor-Anilowski, Physical Therapist. "Her doctor, when he saw the results she was getting, he called me and asked me to be the Saratoga contact for him."
This proved to be a victory for both friends.
"It was a blessing for me to be that role for her and do that for her," said Kathryn.
It has been six years, and Kerisa is cancer free. Her activity level is high and her pain is gone.
"A lot of my friends came out of the woodwork, you really find out who your friends are, some disappear, and some you just can't get rid of because they just want to be there," noted Kerisa.
Kathryn now specializes in the treatment of breast cancer lymphedema and opened her own clinic.