Thursday October 11, 2012
Kara Campbell battled breast cancer quietly. She went to work and took care of her young children and family obligations while keeping her cancer treatment private from nearly everyone. This South Burlington mother of two was determined to charge through life with a spirited determination she learned from her mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Now, three years later, Campbell is breaking the silence, helping others who face the disease and fighting back to help save more lives.
When Campbell was 13 years old, her forty-three year old mother was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. “Breast cancer has always been this thing in my life,” she said. At age 34, Campbell, a senior Human Resources specialist with Burton Snowboards, opted for genetic testing to learn more about her chances of developing cancer. In February 2009, one year after learning she carried the breast cancer gene, cancer was detected in her lymph nodes. Although no breast cancer lump was discovered, Campbell made the extraordinarily difficult decision to undergo a double mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment to be sure her body was free of the life-threatening cancer.
Even during the days of extreme fatigue, Campbell pushed herself to get out of bed and get on with living, determined not to wallow in her circumstances. “I rock,” said Campbell reflecting back. “I worked, lost my hair, and took care of a two year old and a four year old. My attitude was, ‘I will go strawberry picking because that’s what we do in June.’”
In 2010, Burton colleague Tracy Cummings, 45, turned to Campbell for guidance at the beginning of her own breast cancer journey. Cummings benefitted from Campbell’s emotional support, encouragement and advice on treatment decisions.
“Breast cancer doesn’t define us;” Cummings said, “I think it makes us stronger people.”
These two feisty women have joined forces to lead Burton Bettys (a name synonymous with female snowboarders) in the annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 21, 1 p.m. at Dorset Park. The team, sponsored and supported by Burton and its employees, is participating in the fight to end breast cancer for its fifth year, goaled to raise $5,000 through private donations and internal fundraising events.
“We all know someone who has been personally touched by cancer,” said Campbell, whose mother was diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer while she herself was in treatment.
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Chittenden County 5-mile walk will raise awareness about breast cancer prevention, treatment and the progress against breast cancer, while honoring breast cancer survivors and remembering the lives lost. Funds raised through Making Strides enable the American Cancer Society to provide free resources and programs to women, including access to mammograms, and fund nearly $1 million in cancer research at Vermont institutions to find, prevent, treat and cure breast cancer.
“For me it’s very personal,” said Cummings, a mother of two, who is proud to stand among the community of breast cancer survivors and supporters at Making Strides each year. “I am a survivor and my sister passed away from breast cancer. It changed everything in my life.”
Like many who participate in the Strides walk, each step Campbell takes will be a victory, one for her and one for her mother. To support Burton Bettys, or to learn more about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, visit the team’s personal webpage at makingstrideswalk.org/chittendencountyvt.
Source: American Cancer Society