[00:00:00] Adam Walker: In honor of national breast cancer awareness month. If you’d like to join the fight against breast cancer, please go to www.komen.org and donate today.
From Susan G Komen, this is real pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room. This week on the real pink podcast, we are having real conversations about metastatic breast cancer. We’ll be welcoming people living with metastatic breast cancer to share their stories, their experiences, and their words of incurred.
Everyone can make a difference in the life of someone living with the disease, by donating to breakthrough research, people who have their own personal experience with breast cancer often look for ways to give back, to pass on the support that they received during their.journey. Today’s guest was diagnosed with stage three, triple negative breast cancer at age 30, and is now passionate about being an inspiration to others that are diagnosed. Here to share her story and the ways she is supporting others is Kristin Siskind.
Kristin, welcome to the.
[00:01:16] Kristin Siskind: Thank you so much. And thank you for having me.
[00:01:18] Adam Walker: Well, I’m very excited to talk to you and I think we should mention to our listeners that we are recording on your birthday. So happy birthday. Hope it’s been a great one so far.
[00:01:30] Kristin Siskind: Yes. Oh,
[00:01:33] Adam Walker: absolutely. I love the attitude. This is going to be great.
All right. So listen, we love to start off with this question. Let’s start with your breast cancer journey. Can you take us through your diagnosis and subsequent.
[00:01:46] Kristin Siskind: Sure. So when I was 30, it was in March, 2018. I found a lump while I was in the shower. I didn’t think much of it, but I still decided to go get it checked out.
So I went to the OB GYN. Um, she said it was probably nothing to worry about, but let’s go get you a mammogram, just in case. Couple days later, I went to get a mammogram is. It wasn’t very good, like the whole demeanor of the mammogram technician, and then go in to get ultrasounds and getting taken into this nursing.
Room station and her telling me it’s 95% chance you have breast cancer. And again, only being 30 newly married. I had only been married nine months. I, I went into a panic. I started crying. I remember saying to her, I don’t want to die. She said, everyone dies, but you’ll be okay. Fast. I don’t like my heart.
So I went home that day with my husband. He came and picked me up from the cancer center. Um, the next day I went in for biopsies, they did four of them. And then I went to work on Monday. So biopsies on Friday, one to work on Monday, got a call right at the end of the day at four 30, the nurse called me and told me I had breast cancer, told me, you know what?
You better go get a CT, scan your liver, your lungs, bone scan, just to make sure it hasn’t spread because we also found it in your lymph nodes. So then of course, I’m on Google, which I do not recommend anyone go on and Google it because you will freak out for any diagnosis. If you have any kind of ache, it’s, it’s never a good thing.
So I went in, I got my scan. Thankfully, it had not spread to any other places except for my lymph nodes. And I, um, went in, I met with my oncologist. I met with my breast surgeon. I actually meet with a fertility person because my husband and I were talking about starting a family. And that obviously had me put on hold, which was detrimental at the time, but we’ll get through it.
So I started treating. In may I went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy, lost my hair, gained some weight was really tired. Couldn’t taste much, but those are the only. Bad things about chemotherapy. After that, my tumor had shrunk so much that I opted for a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy only because the doctor told me that the chance of it coming back was the same.
Regardless if I, what surgery option that I chose. And I was super eager to get back. I had been on leave of absence and I just wanted to go back to work. I did not want to be at home any longer. Um, so after my surgery, I did go through 31 rounds of radiation. And then I also tried a new oral chemo pill.
That’s supposed to help reduce the risk of recurrence for triple negative breast cancer. But my liver did not like it. So tried it didn’t work out. So those were my treatments from may until about March of 2019. The following.
[00:05:06] Adam Walker: Wow. I mean, that’s a, that’s a rollercoaster right there, and I really appreciate you sharing all that with us.
So I’m curious about, you know, your support network. Were you able to find support or other people there on a similar journey is yours. And were you able to talk to them at that?
[00:05:23] Kristin Siskind: So being super young and not really knowing about breast cancer. So when you’re 30, it’s not something you think about, you know, people, you know, someone’s aunt or grandma or mom has had it, but it didn’t really know anyone how.
My manager knew someone in my company that was a little older than me, but had gone through everything she’s pretty high up in the company. So it was good for her. She actually reached out to me. She gave me some tips on what to eat. What’s going to taste good. What to expect, not everything that she went through, I’m going to go through et cetera.
So it was really nice. I heard about it and we kept in touch and I let her know like, oh my lost my hair today. Oh, the egg salad you recommended actually was a really good lunch. So those having her as a support and then also, um, following the Susan G Komen stuff on Facebook and Instagram and other people, just, just finding people.
Social media that are going through the journey is, and trying to talk to them about it because really I had no one else my age going through it. And again, everyone’s story is so different. So, no, I don’t want to talk to your 75 year old aunt who, you know, maybe didn’t have the same experience as me. And I don’t mean that meanly, but you know, we’re at different stages of.
[00:06:45] Adam Walker: Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. And I, and I certainly can understand how it would be hard to find, you know, that communities, but, but speaking of community, let’s talk about your walk team. Uh, tell me about the walk team and particularly what the walk experience was like the year that you were undergoing treatment.
[00:07:02] Kristin Siskind: Awesome. So in 2018, when I was diagnosed by one of my girlfriends. Her work had a walk team. So I joined her lock team that year. Just, I didn’t know much about the walk was actually raised for the care at that time I went and I was so overwhelmed in a good way. There were so many people. In pink shirts that were survivors of breast cancer.
And there was the parade we had newly diagnosed. We had 25 years survivors and I obviously didn’t have my hair. I had a turban on and people came up to me in so inspirational, so sweet. Like you can do this. How far along, how much longer do you have? And it’s really what I needed to help get me through my last, I think I had two or three treatments left, so my first.
Really inspired me to form my own walk team. So for Cleveland, we are team cannon crew. So my maiden name is Kim. So that’s where we came up with that name. Um, I have a huge group of walkers that support me and a lot of fundraisers donors that also support me. So in 20 19, 20 20 and 21, 20 21, we all had, we had the same cannon crew, more people joining.
We were actually the top fundraising team last year. And then the top fundraising non-corporate team this year. So a lot of support for me and breast cancer. Thanks to my journey.
[00:08:36] Adam Walker: Wow. That’s amazing. I mean, it sounds like you’ve really got just, just really a fantastic community that surrounded you, uh, for this I’m I’m, I’m really, it’s really great to hear.
So. So I, maybe you’ve already answered this, but I’ll ask anyway, maybe there’s more, so what are some ways that you give back after your breast cancer journey and why is that so important
[00:08:56] Kristin Siskind: to you? Yup. So again, my team cannon crew, we do the walks, we raised money. We actually had a garage sale this year. So a bunch of people donated stuff.
We had a garage sale, we sold a bunch of, a bunch of stuff, and people just actually gave us donations that we didn’t even know. Just, you know, oh, breast cancer. We’d love to support that. Um, also, uh, for the Cleveland walk that our executive director, he has me on the recruitment and fundraising committees.
So I hope lead that for Cleveland to help get more people signed up for the walk. Um, and I also, I post a lot on Facebook and Instagram. So there are girls and women that I went to college with, or friends of friends. We’ll be like, oh, Hey, my friend just got diagnosed around your age. Can she reach out to you?
So again, just talking to people, my age, newly diagnosed, giving them ideas, tips, and tricks, anything I can do to help, help support them in any way. But it’s, it’s just an important, I didn’t have. Not that it’s I have this part, but I didn’t really have anyone to talk to. So if you actually look at triple negative breast cancer and statistics and survival stories, there’s, there’s not a lot out there.
There’s there’s the rivalry. Much lower than other breast cancers. And there’s not a lot of survivors, whether that’s once they hit their three or five-year mark, they don’t, you know, breast cancer is not maybe on their mind. So I wanted to continue to be that inspiration showing, Hey, 30 triple negative breast cancer, stage three.
And here I am today, thriving and telling myself.
[00:10:40] Adam Walker: You are a thriving. That’s great. I love, I love, I love, I love the, I love the enthusiasm and the approach, so that’s really fantastic. So I guess, you know, last question. What advice do you have for, uh, for young women, such as yourself that may have been newly diagnosed?
[00:10:59] Kristin Siskind: So my favorite is staff, Google, which I already said, stay off the internet. Don’t read anything negative. Be an advocate for yourself. Find a good doctor, breast surgeon, um, oncologist. That’s going to be your support through this. And if you don’t like someone, you know, you can ask for a different doctor, et cetera.
Also, people are going to want to help you, whether it’s cleaning your house, make the food. Take the help that you can get when you can get it, it will make your life so much easier for each out. If you need anything. For anyone in your support system and my favorite bit of advice, which isn’t the healthiest advice, but when your taste buds aren’t really that great chocolate chip muffins are a game changer.
Well, let me tell you,
[00:11:52] Adam Walker: I th I think that might be a first for this podcast. Chocolate chip muffins are a game. Change it. You heard it. Wow. Well, that’s fantastic. I mean, I love your approach. I love all of your advice. And just even, especially this, the part about allowing other people to help, it’s not always easy, but I’ve heard so many guests say over and over and over again over the years that it’s just so important to be open to that.
And I really appreciate you sharing that. Yeah, absolutely. Kristen, this has been fantastic. Happy birthday. And thank you for joining us on the show. Absolutely.
[00:12:28] Kristin Siskind: Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share my story
[00:12:33] Adam Walker: in honor of national breast cancer awareness boat. If you’d like to join the fight against breast cancer, please go to www.komen.org and donate today.
Thanks for listening to real pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen for more episodes, visit real pink.com and.org for more on breast cancer. Visit komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter at AGA Walker or my blog, Adam J walker.com.