Kari Park’s Story | Two-Time Breast Cancer Survivor
As a two-time breast cancer survivor, 29-year-old Kari Parks has been through more than many people twice her age.
At the age of 25, Kari was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer that accounts for nearly 80% of all invasive breast cancer in women and 90% in men.
After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy by breast surgeon Dr. Fant, Kari was referred to medical oncologist Dr. Gentry who recommended she undergo chemotherapy.
“In the first round, some days were certainly harder than others.” Kari said. “I had many different symptoms, with the hardest being I was very weak and felt drained a lot of the time. My taste buds were off, too, and I experienced bad acne.”
Kari enjoyed nearly three years in remission, but, while showing her younger cousin how she had found the original mass, she felt a new mass in her breast. Her immediate reaction was “this isn’t supposed to be here.”
On October 16, 2018, Kari returned to Dr. Gentry who delivered the unsettling news that her cancer had returned, this time at a stage 4. Of hearing her second diagnosis, Kari said, “I was a bit shocked, but I had no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t overcome it a second time. I know that I’m a warrior!”
Dr. Gentry recommended a second round of chemotherapy along with a lumpectomy and radiation therapy.
Today, Kari is on her fifth week of radiation, of which she’ll do a total of 33 treatments. She said that this round of treatment has seen its own levels of difficulty, including “the frustration of having to balance doctor visits, treatments, radiation, my mental health and work all while being a new wife, a step-mom and dealing with my day-to-day life. I still manage to stay afloat, keep my head held high and have faith knowing that God will see me through this.”
While she still has additional treatments to complete, Kari credits her medical team for “not treating me like a number, and instead treating me like family.” She said “they are always so sweet, informative and willing to make sure I’m doing well. This is one of the many reasons I came back to them for my second diagnosis.”
Through her first diagnosis and now going through her second, Kari says that she keeps looking forward thanks to “my support system, internal strength and positivity, and, of course, my steadfast faith in God.”
For others going through a similar diagnosis, Kari’s greatest advice is to “remain calm, stay positive and have faith. Make sure you have a strong support group and continue living your best life. YOU GOT THIS!”