Changed For Good

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune Wife, mother and cancer survivor Katrina Amos.

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune
Wife, mother and cancer survivor Katrina Amos.

By Breanna Price
Contributing Writer

“You have breast cancer.”

When put together, those four words make up one of the most terrifying and dangerous sentences conceivably able to be spoken in the english language. And for Katrina Amos, hearing those words in August 2007 wasn’t any different.

“When I was first diagnosed, I just felt shattered,” Amos said. “I had fear of the uncertainty. It was almost like I was in a club I didn’t want to join or I had gotten souvenirs I didn’t want.”

The wife and mother had gone in for a routine mammogram and walked out with the hardest news of her life. News that wasn’t just going to affect her. Would she see her son Jordan graduate from high school? Would chemotherapy be worth the pain? Would she still have a job waiting for her if she missed days on end of work from being sick?

All were questions that invaded Amos’ mind. But sticking out from these swarming concerns was a thought. “I did a lot of homework. I did research on breast cancer and reconstruction issues. It was something I prayed about,” Amos explained. “It helped me build a stronger faith. I prayed a lot and I learned that we go through things that we don’t always know why we’re going through at the time. I realized that maybe it was just to be a voice or to help someone else. I tried to stay positive, read positive things, and stay away from negative people. I just had to politely remove myself from negativity.”

Ignoring the pessimism she at times found herself surrounded by, Amos decided for herself, for Jordan, and for her husband Mark that she was going to beat cancer.

“I consider myself a generally positive person. I went into chemo thinking, ‘Maybe I won’t be the one to lose my hair,’ or ‘Maybe I won’t be the one that gets sick,’” Amos said. “I really thought I’d be the person that would have chemo on Monday and then on Tuesday I’d be back at work. But it didn’t really work out that way.”

Despite her positive outlook, complications arose following Amos’ bilateral mastectomy which led to the necessary removal of both of her reconstructive implants. During this time, Amos’ chemotherapy began, adding to the constant stress, nausea and fatigue.

“The treatment is gruesome. It was one of the hardest things I ever went through in my entire life,” said Amos. “I don’t think you can truly understand what it’s like until you go through it yourself.”

A series of surgeries would come after chemo was eventually completed, not ending the process until 2009. But nearly two years and countless hospital visits later, Amos emerged on the triumphant side of her diagnosis, grateful that she hadn’t been forced to go through it all alone.

“I was very fortunate that I had so much support,” Amos said. “That was one of my biggest things because I have such a problem with letting go of control. You have the people that say, ‘Call me if you need anything,’ but I’m not the kind of person that would do that. I learned to ask people, ‘If you can cook a meal for my family’ or ‘If you could pick my kids up from school’ or whatever. I had to realize I wasn’t Superwoman and I had to delegate some things and let go of control in order to let my body heal.”

Amos may know she’s not Superwoman, but similar to the famous heroine she hopes to use her own experiences to help others encountering the same tribulations.

“I’ve been able to help other breast cancer fighters with what they’re going through because I’ve been where they’ve been,” Amos said. “I heard a saying not too long ago that went, ‘It’s what we get to make a living but it’s what we give to make a life.’ I just thought that was so cool because I want to try to help as many people as possible. I feel like it’s all just helped me to be more giving and to be more open. It’s helped me to realize the plan for my life and that this is all part of that big plan.”

Having beaten cancer, it might be easy to say that each day feels like a gift because the cancer is gone. But for others, each day may still feel like a battle because every sunrise also means another opportunity for the cancer to come back.

“I don’t get up every day thinking, ‘Is it going to come back today?’ I could do that, but I don’t think that way,” Amos explained. “It’s been seven years now and I’ve remained cancer free. We don’t have the luxury of knowing what life is going to throw at us but I wouldn’t change a thing. I realized it gave me so much more than it ever took away. I feel like I’m a happier, healthier person than I ever was seven years ago, with a whole network of new friends. It can all change a person, but for me, I feel like it changed me for the better.”