You have more than likely seen her exuberant likeness on our Komen Eastern Washington "Why Are YOU Running?" billboards throughout the city. Who is this woman? You may have asked. What is the energy behind that powerful image? Well, this photo was taken at the start of last year's race; Kristin Knerr kept that energy up as long as she could, with the help of a walker, and the companionship of loved ones. But she was, on that sunny day last April, just one day out of her fourth round of chemotherapy. This is Kristin's powerful story, in her own words:
"I had been living outside the United States for almost eight years. I came to Washington State in December of 2011 to visit some friends for Christmas for ten days. On the third day of my visit, I developed a large tumor, seemingly overnight. Thinking I had somehow injured myself, I went to a quick care clinic for a check up. I was diagnosed with Stage IIIc Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. It had already spread to my lymph nodes and throughout my chest wall.
I had already had three mammograms in the two years before this check up, all of which revealed nothing. I will never forget hearing those words "You have cancer and you cannot go home." So, with that sentence ringing in my ear and a duffel bag that was packed for a ten-day vacation, I began my battle with cancer. I was basically homeless, without transportation, without health insurance, and unemployed.
Throughout this past year, so many people have come to walk along beside me: Family that I have not seen in years, my son and daughter in law who selflessly gave up their home in California to come help me find housing, and a large group of "cheerleaders," most of whom I have never met, gathered together on Facebook to see me through each day. I have been in treatment for 15 months now. I don't know how to put in to words or a paragraph what the fight for my life has been like. I think there is an alone-ness that belongs only to those who fight. It defies explanation. I have truly learned how strong my faith is. I have learned what hope really means; how fragile it can be sometimes. I have seen the incredible strength of the human spirit by watching other survivors along my journey. Spokane, Washington has now become my permanent home. I am proud to be a part of this community and I am proud to fight with the toughest warriors I have ever met here. To walk outside and see my face on all the Susan G. Komen billboards is beyond powerful. I have no words to describe how I feel. It is a profound honor to be a part of your team. That photo was taken the day after I received my fourth of six rounds of chemotherapy. Looking back, I have no idea how I made it through. So much has happened since that day. I completed the remaining rounds of chemotherapy, underwent a double mastectomy and lymph node removal, 45 rounds of Herceptin, 32 rounds of radiation, and am now on Tamoxifen. I am running (hobbling) for so many other women this year. I know we can make it when we make it together. No one fights alone. No one. Thank you for the privilege of being on your team!"
February 2013 Survivor: Michelle Mors
April 2012 Survivor: Terri Grady
February 2012 Survivor: Shelley Wee
January 2012 Survivor: Barb Chase
December 2011 Survivor: Marti Hancock
November 2011 Survivor: Shauna Kennedy-Carr
April 2011 Survivor: Andi Hart
February 2011 Survivor: Kristi Sciuchetti
January 2011 Survivor: Nancy Giese
December 2010 Survivor: Jenn Kelly
November 2010 Survivor: Andrea Christie
April 2010 Survivor: Diana Edwards
March 2010 Survivor: Mary Anne King
February 2010 Survivor: Carol Dellinger
January 2010 Survivor: Barb Burns
December 2009 Survivor: Tracy Morgan
November 2009 Survivor: Jill Spunich
A big Thank You to Lisa Rossi for all the time and effort writing these ladies' amazing stories.