For most of us, the number five holds random and sporadic significance. It may be the number of fingers and toes we count on each hand and foot when our children are born, or a celebratory high five for a job well done. But for Kristin Banker, the number five has taken on a whole new meaning in her battle against ovarian cancer. On August 19, 2016, Kristin Banker and her loved ones celebrated a tremendous milestone – five years cancer free!
Kristin Banker’s Journey
Kristin’s journey began when she and her husband decided to go through fertility treatments for a third child. According to Kristin, “My oncologist described my diagnosis as one in a million. During a procedure to remove some cysts as a part of my fertility treatment, my doctor saw a small one that was tucked behind another and hadn’t really shown up on previous scans. He decided he didn’t like what he saw and removed the cyst. As it turns out, that little cyst was malignant. My doctor gave me the news on a Thursday and told me he had already sent my labs to an oncologist who was expecting my call. The following Tuesday, I met with my oncologist. My husband and I decided to forego growing our family and scheduled surgery for that Friday, eight days after my initial diagnosis. They found cancer on both ovaries, but it hadn’t spread to any other locations, so I ended up as Stage 1C. Looking back, I had all the classic symptoms (I was popping Gas X like they were candy), but thought they were just normal and could easily be explained as results of my diet or fertility meds I was taking.”
Taking on Ovarian Cancer Awareness As Her Personal Mission
As is the case for many women, Kristin was not familiar with ovarian cancer or its symptoms prior to her diagnosis. She recalls, “I didn’t know anything about ovarian cancer. My first information came from googling my biopsy results before my first oncology appointment. I would NOT recommend doing that. Awareness over the past five years has grown significantly, but there is still a long way to go.” And Kristin is also taking on ovarian cancer awareness as her personal mission. She states, “I’m working from a grass roots approach, telling my story to pretty much anyone who will listen. As women, we are a tough bunch and tend to put our health concerns behind those of our family. I want to encourage other women to pay attention to their bodies and not be shy about reporting symptoms and asking their doctors for CA125 tests if they feel they aren’t getting answers.”
Banker’s Brigade Team
Kristin has also been a part of The OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer 5K Run/Walk & 1 Mile Teal Trail Walk since it began five years ago, and her team, Banker’s Brigade, has continued to grow. Says Kristin, “I first heard about the run from a sorority sister who saw it advertised during another event. We started with a team of three, and each year we gather more and more people. Now we have our kids walking and running with us. They were in strollers when we started! It’s an inspiration to me to see our team and the race grow over the last five years. It is a visible representation of how much ovarian cancer awareness has grown in a short amount of time. Now we just need to keep the ball rolling!”
A Positive Message of Love,
Hope and Healing
Through her experience, Kristin has gained and maintained a positive message of love, hope, and healing. She explains, “Yes, I had cancer but I call it the knee scrape version. Treatment for me was surgery without chemo or radiation, which hardly counts considering what others have to go through. Cancer was a blessing, and I say that because it profoundly changed the way I live my life. When I was diagnosed, I allowed myself the initial flip out and the tears that come along with hearing you have the Big C. After that, a sense of peace set in and I began to see my “ho hum” suburban life in a different way. As a family, we don’t put off doing things until the right time when it’s less busy, because there is no such thing. As parents, we don’t sweat the small stuff because, in the grand scheme of things, very few of the day-to-day fiascos matter in the long run. We also rely on faith more than we ever have and simply trust that things will work out as intended.
Every Day is a Gift
Never in a million years did I think I would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 36, but I was, and in the end, it’s made my life better. Diagnosis brought appreciation, gratitude and a renewed commitment to my faith, family and friends. I wake up in the morning thinking about what that day may hold. It could be some wild vacation adventure, kid antics that end in a parent/teacher conference, great weather… who knows? It’s a new day, and I am grateful for just being allowed to show up for it. Not everyone gets the opportunity to look at life in that way.
Cancer showed me that every day is a gift, and for that I’m grateful.”
Sunday, October 23, 2016, Kristin Banker’s Brigade and over 1,500 others will celebrate a day of hope and healing at the 5th Annual OVERRUN Ovarian Cancer 5K Run/Walk & 1 Mile Teal Trail Walk at Southcreek Office Park, Overland Park, KS, 8:30 A.M.
Sign up to run, walk or volunteer at www.overrunovariancancer.com.
We look forward to celebrating five years running and five years “Believing in a Cure.”
We hope you will join us!