Kathy Moore had no idea what the New Year would bring when Bayhealth Oncologist Iftekhar Kahn, MD, diagnosed her with aggressive breast cancer in December 2016. A month later, the 49-year-old single mother of two had a lumpectomy followed by six months of chemotherapy and several weeks of radiation therapy. After those treatments were complete, she received immunotherapy until May 2018.
Moore says she couldn’t have won her breast cancer battle without the support of numerous people, but especially her youngest son, Ryan. “I was really proud of Ryan, who would bring me food and drinks, and even learned how to make a few meals by either asking me or Googling how to do it,” she explained. “In fact, although we ate a lot of microwaveable food or ordered in much of the time, both of my sons—who were 11 and 14 back then—learned how to make meals and how to do the laundry. My ex-husband came by and helped out whenever he could.”
She’s also thankful for the members of her church who prayed for her, made some meals, and offered other help, and the Bayhealth Cancer Center staff, who she describes as knowledgeable and friendly. “Dr. Khan was a good doctor who was always concerned about any pain I had, and he was also always concerned about me finding new employment and offered to write letters for me,” said Moore, who lost her job in May 2017 when the company she was working for closed its doors.
“As you can imagine, being a single mom of two boys, while unemployed and receiving cancer treatment was very difficult,” she said. “I was already only working part-time at my job, even though I was technically a full-time employee. I had to search for a job while undergoing treatment, and go on job interviews without any hair and ask for them to accommodate my schedule.”
According to Moore, her relationship with the nursing staff further helped build her trust in Bayhealth. “The nurses were gracious, down-to-earth and pleasant,” she said. “My biggest fear was the financial part. But Bayhealth’s nurse navigators, ‘Hutch’ and Renee, set me up with The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and two other smaller organizations, which helped me with my bills while I wasn’t working. So, between that, unemployment, and child support, I was able to squeeze by until I finally obtained new employment in November.”
Moore wrote a short book about her experience battling breast cancer, but hasn’t found a publisher yet. “I mostly wrote it to bring hope and humor to other cancer patients,” she explained. “With every turn of my journey came an unexpected obstacle. Once I got through it all and looked back, I found myself saying, if I didn’t have bad luck, I didn’t have any luck.”
Moore says she also wanted to share her story to bring awareness to the fact that not everyone who gets cancer is older. “They can be single moms with no relatives living nearby,” she said. “But on a positive note, I can show people that it can be gotten through. You need to ask for help sometimes too. I’m grateful that I was able to run errands or work while I still had my job on my good days. I got to the supermarket so we could eat.”
As she did prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, Moore spends most of her time working, taking care of the house and kids, and going to church. In what little free time she has, she works out and is involved with activities at her church. “As far as exercise goes, I didn’t do it before my cancer diagnosis,” she explained. “But I really enjoy the benefits it provides including strengthening my body, working as an anti-depressant, and keeping my energy levels up. My biggest surprise, aside from losing my job of course, was realizing how much chemotherapy can wipe you out some days.”
Although she’s glad to be in the survivor stage of her journey, Moore added, “I’ve missed the nurses and registration staff since finishing my treatment. From check-in to check-out, the nurses, therapists and nurse practitioners are great.”
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