Think Pink: Young survivor uses tragedy to gain fresh perspective

Hannah Blick Updated: October 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm • Published: October 22, 2013 0

Provided by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, additional contributions by Hannah Blick.

Courtney Chapin had just turned 30, was working full time and living a pretty typical, young-adult’s life – until she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When a lump started growing quickly, I dismissed it thinking it couldn’t possibly be cancer since I was only 30,” Chapin said. “Without insurance, health issues are very stressful.”

Chapin had canceled her health insurance policy in 2011, because she had not used it and didn’t expect to anytime soon. She contacted Peak Vista Community Health Centers one morning as soon as they opened, stayed on hold for a couple of hours, and set an appointment for that day.

“The doctor did an exam and said he didn’t think it was anything serious,” she said. “He gave me the number of two breast specialists for a second opinion.”

Out of those two, breast surgeon Dr. Laura Pomerenke was able to see her within a week.

“At the visit, she couldn’t confirm that it was cancer, but she did prepare me for the likelihood,” Chapin said. “Her kind heart and gentle nature during the visit helped to ease fears about my new and uncertain future.”

Pomerenke also connected Chapin with Lesa Graybill, who, along with other survivors, provided support and love during a sad and overwhelming time. 

“Those connections are the biggest blessing from this journey,” Chapin said.

Scans showed that the cancer had metastasized to the liver, lungs, and bones. Chapin started chemotherapy at the end of April, finished in June, had a mastectomy in September, and radiation from October to December.

“The cancer resolved in my lungs, and liver, after chemo, Chapin said. “It is still in my bones. I get a shot once a month to help my bones stay strong, and do scans regularly to monitor any changes.”

Sense of Security, an organization that helps breast cancer patients during treatment, paid Chapin’s rent for six months while she was in chemotherapy. Assistance that Chapin said provided a much-needed comfort – a safe home.

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