In the News

Kacie Barnett’s Story | Breast cancer survivor finds care close to home

In November 2018, Kacie Barnett was in the midst of a similarly stressful, yet non-cancer-related journey. At 29 years old, Kacie and her husband K.C. had turned to fertility specialists to try and expand their family. Her world was consumed by life-changing medical interventions they were undergoing to try to conceive a child, so a possible cancer diagnosis was the farthest thing from her mind. 

That was until October 2018 when Kacie discovered a lump in her left breast during a self examination. Because of a benign breast lump as a teenager, and her husband’s persistent urging, Kacie knew it would be best to bring this discovery to her OB-GYN’s attention at her next appointment. Her physician felt it would be best to send her to Drew Memorial Health System to have a needle biopsy of the lump. When the results returned, her gynecologist confirmed Kacie’s worst fear – she had stage III, grade III triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma, commonly known as breast cancer. 

While she was disappointed, she said “by that point, I can honestly say I wasn’t surprised. I was sort of braced for impact.” After the initial news, Kacie’s mind turned to “I just needed to know the details and the plan.”In the early stages of devising that plan, Kacie received well-meaning advice from friends and family, saying “I was urged by some to seek treatment out of state.” But Kacie had a plan of her own, “I knew that I could get great care closer to home so the choice was easy.” She decided to seek treatment at CARTI, where she saw medical oncologist Dr. Rhonda Gentry and radiologist Dr. Michael Talbert. Together, they formulated a treatment plan specific to Kacie’s cancer and needs. 

Kacie started her treatment journey with 13 rounds of chemotherapy. Over the course of five months, she kept her mental and emotional strength by infusing each treatment with an air of fun, with the usual support group of friends and family joining her in that fun. But it was her nurses that surprised Kacie the most. “Despite how busy they were, they truly took the time to get to know me. They maintain such a positive attitude and I know their jobs are not easy!” One nurse in particular stood out, “Kylie was my nurse for my first treatment. I was so nervous and scared, but she quickly put me at ease with her humor and kind manner.” 

After chemotherapy, Kacie chose to have surgery, followed by 30 rounds of radiation therapy, which she finished in July. 

As an athlete, Kacie says the hardest part of her treatments was “the emotional impact of my physical limitations. I had been training for a half marathon and preparing to test for my black belt in karate just prior to my diagnosis. I really struggled with being unable to do the things I considered simple before, and with regaining my range of motion to keep up in karate.”

She pushed through both the physical and mental challenges the journey brought by the internal “push to get this behind me and to prove my strength as a warrior and survivor.”