Stories of Survival: Kristi

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as a way to show our support for the fight against cancer, we will be sharing stores of survival from friends and family members of the Ful team. Meet Kristi. Kristi is a friend of Ful. She is a mother, loves the outdoors and a cancer survivor!

FUL: Tell us a little about yourself –
KRISTI: My name is Kristi. I’m a 41 year old single mom to two wonderful teenagers, Alyson (17) and Blake (14). I’ve worked full-time for RE/MAX Right Way as an administrative assistant for the past nine years. I have always been a very outdoors kind of person. I love camping, riding our sea-doos at the lake, trips to the beach, weekends in the Smoky Mountains, week long cruises to the Bahamas and even love getting a little muddy every now and then. Yes, I’m a country girl. I have four brothers and a sister, so we learned how to have fun doing just about anything. I am very involved in Relay for Life of Tipton County. I have a Relay for Life team named Kristi’s Krusaders and we had 43 team members last year. My team alone raised over $4,500 for the American Cancer Society. I’ve been asked to serve as the Survivor Chair for Relay for Life of Tipton County for our May 30, 2014 relay. I am a Survivor!

FUL: How did you find out you had breast cancer?
KRISTI: During the 2012 fall break, I was visiting my high school best friend in Florida and I found my lump. I knew what it was as soon as I felt it. I told my friend the next day because I was so scared. I never told anyone besides my boyfriend and a couple of friends until I went to doctor. After seeing my doctor, I was sent to the Women’s Care Center of Memphis to have a biopsy. Two days later, while standing in my kitchen at 9:30 AM, I got the call I hoped I would never get . . . “Ms. Hubbard you have cancer”. I hung up the phone. Thank goodness my boyfriend was close by, because I just hugged him and without saying a word, he knew. I just cried.

FUL: Did you have a family history of breast cancer?
KRISTI: Yes, my mother had breast cancer and fought hard for three years until she lost her battle. I had genetic testing done to see if it did run in my family. I remember the day I got the call telling me I did have the BRCA1 gene, I was standing by my desk at work, seems like yesterday. It was like being told “you have cancer” all over again.

FUL: How did you and your family react to your diagnosis?
KRISTI: The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to tell my kids and my family. I thought “how am I going to tell my kids, my family or even my friends I have cancer?”. The death of my mom was so fresh and I shared her diagnosis. There were lots and lots of tears and prayers from everyone. I made a promise to my kids I would fight hard for them and I would never give up.

FUL: What was your life like during treatment?
KRISTI: It was like I was on a roller coaster ride I couldn’t get off. After having a lumpectomy in November 2012, I found out I had triple negative breast cancer. I was then told my cancer was aggressive and I would need to take the most aggressive form of chemotherapy. I stayed so sick and weak for four months during my chemo treatments, but still worked when I could. I started losing my hair the day after Christmas, which was after my second round of treatment. My sweet friend Leslie went hand and in hand with me to get my hair cut off. Then by my fourth treatment, I started losing my fingernails. I knew my hair would grow back as well as my fingernails, but it was still devastating. I bought a wig similar to my long hair, but after wearing it for an hour and crying the whole time, I just couldn’t do it. So I wore hats made for me by friends and lots of beautiful scarves which were either my mom’s or were giving to me by friends. However, I just felt like I was hiding behind them, so I just went bald. After finding out I had the BRCA1 gene, I had a double mastectomy and four weeks later had a total hysterectomy. Then in August 2013, I had reconstruction surgery. I will have to say, I’m so thankful for my boyfriend Todd, my kids, my friends, my family and wonderful church family. Todd never left my side and my kids were with me every second they were not in school. Todd never missed a doctor appointment, he sat in the chair beside me during every chemo treatment and stood by me during my surgeries. My friends, my kid’s teachers and my church family made sure we had food on the table every night. Leslie had a schedule of people who would cook each night to help take the worries off of Todd and my kids. I can never repay everyone who stood beside us during my journey. I’m so blessed to have such loving people in my life.

FUL: Have your doctors given you any sort of prognosis for the future?
KRISTI: After four surgeries in nine months, I only have one more in my future. I was told in May 2013 that I was cancer free! Now I have to go back to my doctor every three months for the next couple of years, then I’ll go every six months so they can keep a close eye on me.

FUL: How did you manage to stay positive during the tough times?
KRISTI: My kids, boyfriend and my friends! I had to fight like I have never fought before for my kids. My kids are my world! I’m all they have. Plus, I knew I had GOD on my side; as well as, the BEST guardian angels watching over me . . . my mom, my dad and my grandmother. Somehow through all of this, I seemed to keep a smile on my face.

FUL: What advice would you give to other women about early detection?
KRISTI: Get checked starting early. I know they say start at 40, but don’t! I was 40 when I found my lump. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if you think you feel anything abnormal.

FUL: What message of hope would you share with others who have cancer?
KRISTI: Never give up! You will find out you’re stronger than you have ever thought you could be. Let your family and friends help you in any way.

FUL: During treatment, what music was an inspiration or comfort to you?
KRISTI: I would have friends send me different songs to keep me strong during my treatment. A few songs come to mind “I’m a Survivor” by Reba McIntyre, “I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and my favorite, Kelly Clarkson’s, “Stronger“.

Here’s Kristi on a recent cruise vacation with her PINK Gibson backpack! She carries a PINK Ful bag to show her support for Breast Cancer awareness and you can too! The PINK Gibson offers suspension contoured back straps, a laptop compartment with EVA foam padding, a MP3 pocket with earbud wire port, an internal organizer, a PVC bottom pannel and a molded grab handle. Get your very own PINK Gibson from today!

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