As a professional radio and television broadcaster, I’ve educated the community about all kinds of cancer for decades. I have encouraged people to support cancer research and be proactive with their health—telling listeners and viewers to get their screenings on schedule. And for women, to get their mammograms, know their breast density, learn their family history, and any other factor that could raise their risk.
I leaned into breast cancer in particular, because it took both my grandmother’s and my mother’s life. My mother fought it with all the treatments that were available. She so wanted to live. She loved life. One of my most vivid memories, when she was back on chemo again, was her singing karaoke to classic R&B songs and dancing with her grandkids while bald and leaning on a walker.
Because of my family history, I began getting annual mammograms at age 35. I shared my screening appointments on radio and television in public service campaigns—always with the camera angle from behind, of course.
“The new Kathryn F. Kirk Center has profound meaning. To cancer survivors, it’s a visible symbol of our collective hopes and dreams.”
In July 2019, I was called back after my routine mammogram. A follow up ultrasound and biopsy revealed I had stage 2b breast cancer, the ‘b’ indicating it had spread to my lymph nodes. It was scary and sobering. Soon, I was at Huntsman Cancer Institute in the expert hands of my surgical superhero, Dr. Jane Porretta, and the outstanding oncologist Dr. Mei Wei.
Step by step, I was given support from genetic counselors who searched but didn’t find a genetic mutation in my DNA, radiation oncologists, and passionate, knowledgeable nurses in every area of the hospital—whether in surgery, radiation therapy, infusion, or while lying face down in MRIs or face up in CAT scans. My loving husband and sons were respectfully welcomed and patiently educated during my hospital stays. I’ll never forget the tender care I received in my most helpless moments in the ICU.
Each morning that I’d arrive for chemo infusion or radiation, I’d drive the hour from my home and up the winding path to the cancer hospital, its giant, mirrored walls reflecting the mountains and valleys below. It became much more than a place of diagnosis and treatment.
There is an anthropological research theory called Cultural Geography. It looks at how people ascribe meaning to places, buildings, and locations. The new Kathryn F. Kirk Center has profound meaning. It may appear to be made of bricks and mortar, glass and steel, but to cancer survivors, it’s a visible symbol of our collective hopes and dreams. It symbolizes a continuous commitment to provide the most advanced cancer care in the world.
On behalf of all who will walk through the doors, I thank you for giving all of us a new beginning—a place of healing, hope, and promise.
Huntsman Cancer Institute breast cancer patient
Guest of honor at the Kathryn F. Kirk Center dedication