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"Cancer research saved my life!"

by Marlo Benning

    Bluegrass native Kathy Burgau shares her cancer story because breast cancer is not just for older women as many may think. 

    Her cancer journey began at the young age of 26 when she described herself as “the spitting image of good health”. She said that she is the proof that young women can indeed develop breast cancer.

    She prompted women at  Tri-County’s Live Pink women’s event held this fall to “never doubt the chance that you can get breast cancer”.

    She said that a self breast exam is how she first discovered a lump. She insisted on further testing even though her doctor felt she was too young to have cancer.

    “I found out I had an aggressive form of cancer. Six out of 11 nodes were positive and they noted that they were clumped together,” she recalled.

    Because of her age, she was told that she was being sought after to be in oncology studies on both the east and west coasts. Ultimately, cancer research saved her life, Burgau said.

    After discovering the cancer and before treatment began, her doctor advised she go through invitro fertilization. The eggs that were frozen would be available in four to five years after she had finished up chemotherapy and other treatments.

    This gave her the hope she needed.

    “After my first chemo session, I told my husband “I’m going to live”.”

    “The doctor would have never had me do invitro if he didn’t think I’d be around to raise them [their children],” she said.

    “During chemo I had hope and I was living for those embryos. I was put on a national study and some of the drugs made all of my skin peel off.”

    She was put on various medications that had lots of side effects, in addition to the loss of all of her hair. She did the national study in order to get access to clinical trials.

    She described the sickness, neuropathy, aches and pains she has endured.

    “Way more than you’ll ever know,” she said.

    After two years of being cancer free, she was able to try and have the family she and husband Terry had waited and yearned for. What she described as “the best gift ever”, led to the birth of twin boys and  later she also had a girl.

    Today, Burgau remains cancer free and is an active and healthy mom who has shared her story to raise awareness. She has competed in the Mrs. Minnesota pageant and been featured in various magazines. She also learned this year that she has no DNA for breast cancer! 

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