Breast Cancer Awareness – Why I Care

If we’ve had a conversation, either online or in real life, you probably know breast cancer awareness is an important part of who I am. But, what you may not know is why. It started 20 years ago when I was six-years-old and busy terrorizing my little brother, marrying GI Joe to Barbie and learning I’d rather run around on a muddy soccer field than dance in a tutu. Meanwhile, my mom was battling the healthcare system to provide her with proper care.  At her young age of only 34 and with much less breast cancer awareness than we have today, doctor after doctor told her the pain she was feeling in her breast was from too much caffeine and nothing to worry about.

Our First Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk

Not only was she young, but pain is not often associated with traditional breast cancer cases. But in her true fashion, my mother followed her instinct and luckily since she worked in a hospital was able to find the right doctor to provide her with the appropriate tests. It didn’t take long for her to learn she did in fact have breast cancer, but thanks to her persistence it was early stage and treatable. She underwent surgery for a single mastectomy and beat the odds not only against cancer but didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation. In fact, the whole process seemed so quick and routine that I barely remember her fight against the disease, but it has continued to have an impact on my life.

Growing up my family has been great about raising our awareness of the disease, openly answering any questions that my brother or I had, and encouraging us to get involved in the fight against cancer. In 2008 and 2009, my mom and I walked side-by-side in the 3-day 60 mile Breast Cancer walk. During our 3-day experiences, we raised approximately $10,000, walked hundreds of miles, cried, laughed, remembered the taken, celebrated the lucky, shared our story, listened to others, built lasting friendships and vowed to continue striving to find a cure. Additionally my family and friends have supported me while I ran numerous races for a cure, raised money by selling hot dogs and even sold half the stuff in my dad’s house to raise funds for a cure.

Hot Dogs for a Cure

Our tent at the second 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk

My brother cheering us on

After nearly 20 years of celebrating my mom’s victory over breast cancer, we found out in December 2011 that it had returned and once again we would be a part of the fight. Like the first time, my mom found the cancer early and while the months of surgeries, doctor visits and tears were tough, we are lucky to celebrate that she is now a two-time survivor and stronger than ever. I strongly believe her positive attitude, dedication to the cause and strong support system were a big part of her quick recovery. I am thankful that so many people (including my family, friends and coworkers) continue to put time, money and their hearts into finding a cure so one day stories like mine will be a part of history.

Our 3-Day Team

Maggie’s Mom is a Survivor Too!!

With my mom’s recent fight against cancer, she tested positive for the BRCA-1 gene mutation. This discovery has been emotional, educational and life-changing. Check back soon to hear more about genetics testing, my mom’s results and why I decided to get tested too.


Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey with me. I will never be able to explain how important the cards, encouraging words, support, hugs, story sharing and even tears have meant. I am so lucky to have you all in my life. xoxo 

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13 thoughts on “Breast Cancer Awareness – Why I Care

  1. Emily April 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm Reply

    Love your story – you are part of an amazing family! Let me know whatever I can do to help you at any time!!!

  2. minnehappiness April 7, 2012 at 12:00 am Reply

    I love this post, Katie.

  3. Heidi Aylward April 7, 2012 at 11:33 am Reply

    Katie, I remember your mother’s first fight with cancer and how persistent she was. Who would of thought someone so young could have breast cancer. She fought it and won!! I didn’t know about her recent fight with cancer. She is a fighter and such an amazing woman! You are so lucky that she was so persistent. You’ve become a beautiful person and woman. Keep working at raising breast cancer awareness. I have so many family and friends that have been affected. We need more people like you :)!!
    Heidi Aylward

    • ktmiller19 April 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Hi Heidi, It is great to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind words. We will keep on fighting! Hope you are well.

  4. Malinda Ann Hill (@MalindaAnnHill) April 7, 2012 at 11:46 am Reply

    Great post! Good Luck! 🙂

  5. Virginia Cwach April 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm Reply

    Hi Katie, this was truely a beautiful piece to read. I’m one of your Mom’s cousins and I’m sad to say I wasn’t aware of her recent battle with this. We have had so much breast cancer and loss from cancer on the Gabriel side of the family. You are an amazing daughter and Champion in her corner. Please keep posting; I’m curious about the gene-mutation test and what effect if any that has on or could have on our family members. Or is it just in your immediate family. Bless you and your family. Love to you all, Jeannie

    • ktmiller19 April 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm Reply

      Hi Jeannie,

      Thank you so much for reading my post. It is really sad how many people on the Gabriel side have had to deal with breast cancer. The gene mutation that my mom has actually originated from the Italian heritage and can impact anyone in the Gabriel family. I’m going to write more about what we’ve learned and will be sure to share with you! xoxo

      • Bunny Gabriel Leeder April 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

        Hi Katie, would like you to give me this information as well. We need to let everyone know. Thanks for all you have done and do. We really appreciate it. Take care.

        Bunny Gabriel Leeder

      • ktmiller19 April 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm

        Hi Bunny,

        Thank you for your message. I will absolutely get you the information about the BRCA1 gene. It really is interesting and I think is important for our family to know about. I’ll be posting about it too!

        xoxo Katie

  6. Sue April 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm Reply

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for sharing your mom’s story. I’m proud of you, your brother and the rest of the family in supporting the cause and your mom. ❤ from cousin Susie in Cali/Nevada; the westcoast Gabriel’s.

    • ktmiller19 April 12, 2012 at 9:12 am Reply

      Hi Susie, Thank you so much for reading my blog, it means a lot that so many of my mom’s cousins have commented. I hope things are going well on the west coast! Have a good day! ❤ Katie

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