An Interview with a Cancer Patient: Kori and Breast Cancer

 

I’ve known Kori for a LONG time. Her story is one that can only be described as miraculous on steroids. For a long time Kori’s story was drug addiction, alcoholism, theft, and prison. Change began happening in her and soon treatment and recovery were added to her story. At last, this year saw opening up before her a life of integrity and freedom that she began living with a tenacity and grace that amazed me.

Then, 134 days ago, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I sat down with her the day after her last chemo treatment to see how her life, her mind and her heart have been changed for the better and worse by cancer. Here’s what she had to say.

How do you think your perspective has changed since cancer?

Viking

It has changes quite a bit. Drug and alcohol treatment changed my perspective – but not enough. I still thought trivial things were important after that but now, there are things that are just NOT important. Being the fastest person on the road, not important. Getting there safely, important. Disagreeing with people over silly things, not important. Making memories, living in the movement – important. The bottom line, not important. Taking care of each other, important. Finishing together, that’s what’s important.

The entire disease has been a blessing, it has opened my eyes to so many things. It has brought me so much joy in the face of something so horrible. To endure the chemo and actually feel like “this must be what dying feels like” and then be surprised daily with gifts or encouragement and life from friends and SO many strangers has just completely overwhelmed me.

I am determined to live a life of trying to giving back in accordance with all that I have received.

What would you say about your own cancer journey?

Life doesn’t stop when you find out you have cancer. Food, medicine, gas, bills don’t stop just because you get sick.

I had to leave my job that I loved to move in with my mom who lived far away from my friends and community.

It wasn’t real until the port was put in and it was devastating. I have this foreign object inside of me and this scar on my chest. I thought I’d been through enough … I’d just turned 40 and I was really excited, hoping to find and meet someone. I had a job I loved, a family that I could finally see, children that I have a great relationship with … and then it all changed. I was mad. I couldn’t work out, I had to take chemo, I lost my hair, and I didn’t want to be sick. The sick really took me by surprise. I tried to do normal things and then just felt terrible. I realized I couldn’t “be normal,” I couldn’t do things I wanted to do.

Giving up my life, my hiking, my beach, my summer – the season I live for because I can be in my most favorite place just sucked. I feel like I lost a lot.

 

Are there questions you wish people would ask that don’t get asked?

I like people to talk to me instead of stare at me.

I like the question, “Is your bald head a fashion statement or are you going through something?”

I most appreciate when people acknowledge my fight. I have strangers hug me and tell me, “I had a double mastectomy and I’m fiver years clean.” Those get me and change the feeling of my day in a positive way dramatically.

For those facing Breast Cancer … what would you tell them?

  • Smile.
  • Read encouraging stuff like this everyday:IMG_1410
  • It’s all in your attitude. Don’t let the thought of cancer beat you, you can’t. It’s mind over matter – the power of positive thoughts AND actions. Find something that brings happy to you everyday; for me it was my future, going back to school, the thought of writing my book, and sharing my story.
  • I have too much that I want to do and I’m determined to accomplish it. I love my life, I’ve re-built this life, I went through too much to be here and cancer is not going to stop me.
  • Be willing to let your purpose evolve and change, everything is always changing.
  •  I have so much strength in me now that I feel like I can be a strength for somebody else.

… Amazing right?

Following Kori’s cancer journey on Facebook has been so wonderful and heartbreaking to see. My favorite comment of hers on cancer simply stated this:

“I am the happiest person with cancer. It’s leaving my body and I’m thankful for that. But everything that has happened to me when I got cancer has been a blessing to me.”

 

If you would like to help Kori out by making a donation to help her keep up with the bills that don’t stop just because cancer starts, please click here.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 3.35.48 PM

 

|| what do you think?

– Do you have a cancer story, your own or a loved one’s?

– What did you learn from it?

– How has it changed your life?

By | 2014-10-22T21:30:55-07:00 October 22nd, 2014|General|18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Becky Finch Lomaka October 23, 2014 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Hi Molly and Kori,
    Thank you for this inspirational blog! Kori, you are amazing and an inspiration to me. I can get so caught up in the trivial, and ultimately insignificant, details of my life that I forget to count my blessings. Thank YOU for reminding me how precious my life is – the good, the bad and the ugly.

    You are the most beautiful and happy person with cancer that I have ever met; from day one of your diagnosis you have been determined to beat this with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. My prayers continue for your healing and full recovery! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Becky

  2. Becky Finch Lomaka October 23, 2014 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Hi Molly and Kori,
    Thank you for this inspirational blog! Kori, you are amazing and an inspiration to me. I can get so caught up in the trivial, and ultimately insignificant, details of my life that I forget to count my blessings. Thank YOU for reminding me how precious my life is – the good, the bad and the ugly.

    You are the most beautiful and happy person with cancer that I have ever met; from day one of your diagnosis you have been determined to beat this with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. My prayers continue for your healing and full recovery! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Becky

  3. Anne October 23, 2014 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Molly, Thank you for sharing this with our world.
    Kori, Thank you for your continued vision, determination and ever changing focus as life handed you this new challenge. No matter what you have been through in the past, this is the biggest challenge to date. No doubt, deciding to fight and overcome addiction and all that went with it, prepared you for this battle.
    No doubt is a the phrase I choose to leave with you… I have no doubt you will get through this. I have no doubt you will go on to achieve many, if not all of your dreams. I have no doubt that God will grant you the desires of your heart at exactly the right time when you are ready for them. I have no doubt that even with all the love and encouragement of family, friends, and yes, the countless strangers who are concerned and in your corner, ultimately you are hand in hand with God Almighty, who will not let your foot slip on this slippery slope you are on.
    Love you,
    Annie

  4. Kari Lyn Leslie October 23, 2014 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Molly,

    Thanks so much for interviewing my sister! She means the world to me, and I hope that sharing her with so many will touch souls and change lives.

    Kori,

    Where to begin? You have been the ball for some of your life, but now for MOST of your life you’re gonna be and are the Louisville Slugger!! I’m so proud of your strength and tenacity. I am looking forward to many years watching how God blesses you and you bless others. You have a story that inspires and your spark will ignite others to tackle trials head on and use them for personal growth.

    Love you to the Moon and Back!!

    Sissy

  5. Elsa October 23, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Molly,
    Great Blog. What an incredible story of perseverance. All that she has gone through in life and still have a positive outlook is inspiring. Looking forward to the day we here the Good News that Cancer is Gone! All the best wishes and prayers to Kori and her family.

  6. Chuck RIcciardi October 23, 2014 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Molly,

    Thanks for allowing us a peek, a peek into a journey that is certainly life changing. How it is life changing however is up to the individual, not the disease.

    Kori,
    How powerful it is when we take things head on and do not play the victim in this life. You as much as anyone would have the right to throw in the towel, to just give up and say I cannot do this. But I believe your life has prepared you and given you the strength to not throw in the towel and to take whatever comes your way head on. I was devastated when I heard the news. You were in such a good place and you had overcome so much and then this. Once again you are the beacon that shows the way out of the storm. You will thrive and your story will continue to inspire. Thank you for sharing it.

    Love,
    Chuck

  7. Jeff Turner October 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Molly and Kori,
    Thank you for this bittersweet peak into this last six-plus months. Kori, you were an inspiration before your diagnosis and you are even more so now. Your true character is being revealed through all of this and it is the very best of humankind. I look forward to the celebrations ahead and pray for the hard times in between. Your transformation over the last number of years proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that people can and do change for the better when they are able to choose to.

    I love you and pray for you often and especially now as the affects of this last chemo have taken hold and are playing out their brutal symptoms upon your body. Somehow, you, the real you, chemo cannot brutalize. Rather, your resolve seems strengthened and your outcome even more secured day by day.

    Love and hugs sweet girl,

    Jeff

  8. Stacy October 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Very insightful perspective and outlook on such a horrible cancer. I really enjoyed reading and feeling Koris’ positive energy and good sense of humor through her expression and thoughts on cancer. Although it can be a constant struggle it seems to me that Kori is never let down by her family and friends; even total strangers who are inspired by her strength; just constantly surrounded by loving and caring people. Stay high spirited and never give up! Wishing you all the best!

  9. Mark October 24, 2014 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Molly….Thank you for this very insightful blog….Kori’s perspectives and how they have changed about life are good reminders for us…..I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “Inch by inch life’s a cinch…yard by yard life is hard” Life should be measured in the small things and the small steps…..Mark

  10. Erin Fodor October 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Kori has the best attitude and outlook on life. She is always a joy to be around, and I just love her. Although I am fortunate to not have much experience with cancer in my family. I know it can be devastating. I love and admire Kori for keeping her spirits lifted.
    -Erin

  11. amy October 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Thank you for doing this interview and allowing us to share in this journey with a little more clarity.

    Kori,
    You are an amazing woman. Strong, encouraging, bright, hopeful and beautiful inside and out. To have so much going on and still be able to smile is powerful and inspiring. I admire your courage and strength during these difficult days. I look forward to hearing about your future and what is in store for you. Continue to inspire us all with your courage and continue to keep smiling.

    Amy

  12. Carrie Bayer October 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Molly! This is an amazing interview & I know it will inspire many, many people- both with & without cancer. Kori’s attitude is what will help others overcome ANY challenge in their life. I had the pleasure of notarizing her Advanced Healthcare Directive for her as she prepares for surgery. We sat together for quite a while & listening to her was amazing. I could sit & listen to her for days. She is so inspiring, candid, hilarious & tough! You just can’t help but be stronger after a few moments with her. Thank you so much! XOXOX, Carrie

  13. Fitz October 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    What a inspirational blog and interview. Kori, you never cease to amaze with your attitude and spirit. I appreciate your straight forward, no holds bar approach to your life. God bless you on your continued journey of renewed health and personal development.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you!
    Fitz

  14. Neil October 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Molly –
    I am truly amazed by the human spirt. I continue to relearn the important lessons in life, faith, family, friends, health and love. We are only here for a very short time and we cannot control every aspect of life. Kori’s attitude has made me rethink a lot about my life and my choices. I am impressed with Kori’s will to not let cancer kill her attitude or her soul. I appreciate Kori being so willing to share her life with us. My prayers are with you daily! XOXO

  15. Joe Lavoie October 28, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I appreciate the sharing of Kori’s story it has been of great help to me as I am going through my father’s journey with prostrate cancer that is now in his bones. I learn from him everyday some good and bad days but we are together and I am blessed that I still have the opportunity to speak with dad on a daily basis. We are leading into the end days for dad in his 91 year life and I have learned a lot and this experience will forever change my life , although these days are a very difficult time for us all in my family at least for each day I have with dad I am very blessed and grow from each cherished moment. Again thanks for this very meaningful blog.

    Sincerely
    Joe Lavoie

  16. Mitch October 28, 2014 at 10:47 am - Reply

    What an amazing story. I am not big on coincidence, there is a reason for everything. We just don’t see it right away. Going through something like this definitely shows where your priorities are and sometimes they need to change. It can actually enhance our lives. This makes my problems seem pretty small. Thank you for sharing and keep us posted. God bless you Kori.

  17. Rosemary November 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Molly & Kori, for sharing Kori’s amazing journey. Kori, you are an such an inspiration – I am absolutely awestruck every time I hear about the things that you have experienced and the incredible strength with which you handle it all! You are truly amazing! God bless and keep you always, Kori!

  18. Lori November 20, 2014 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Molly,
    Kori’s light shines through any photo I have ever seen of her. She is such a positive presence, even in the midst of such hard times. Even pictures that I have seen after chemo or surgery when she is at her weakest, that sparkle is still there. This is a girl who has defied so many odds over her lifetime. This has been a huge speed bump, but from what I know of Kori, she will emerge with even a greater passion for life. She is an amazing young lady and role model. Love her and so glad she is doing so well!

    Lori

Leave A Comment