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Client Story: Unexpected Blessings… Kara McKinney & family

Kara McKinney with her husband Brad and their children

April 1, 2009, is the day life changed for Kara McKinney and her family. She received the news all women dread: “You have breast cancer.”

“I don’t remember much after hearing those words,” Kara says. “All I could think about was my children- three and one at the time. I was afraid they would never know their mother.”

Kara knew she had to fight. “I strapped on my seatbelt and started on this wild roller coaster ride. I cycled through all of the emotions…denial, fear, anger, sadness and finally acceptance,” she says. “And then, I found the biggest change in my journey. I gave it over to God and my inner soul started breathing again.”

Kara had a lumpectomy and fortunately, the cancer had not spread; however, she had to undergo chemotherapy. “I lost all of my hair and had side effects that I can’t even mention,” she explains. “It was hard.”

But Kara also had good days. She was able to bake a cake for both of her children’s birthdays during her treatment. And because of her husband’s strength and resolve to carry his family through this difficult time, Kara and her children were given a refuge in the backyard during her treatment, which he transformed for them into a playground.

“I am so grateful for Brad. I cannot begin to tell you how much he means to me,” Kara says. “He is my soul mate, through sickness and health.”

Kara is also grateful for the help she and her family received from Cancer Services. “My Client Advocate, Maureen, is an angel sent from God,” she says. “Not only did she provide emotional support and two wigs, she also helped me secure insurance for me and my children through Medicaid. She was relentless in her pursuit to open doors for me.”

Shortly after Kara was diagnosed with cancer, her husband’s company changed their policy and discontinued insurance coverage for dependents. “There’s no way we would have been able to pay for my treatment and regular doctor’s visits for my children,” she explains. “Maureen saved our lives.”

Today, Kara is done with the surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy and is starting to feel normal again. “I still have struggles,” she admits. “Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and wonder ‘who is that woman?’ I often joke with my husband that he has a new wife. But in all seriousness, cancer has changed me, mentally and physically, and that takes some getting used to.”

With each day Kara gets stronger. “Cancer provides unexpected blessings,” she says. “I have a new appreciation for faith, family and life. I am blessed.”