By Alanna Kennedy
A woman learns about cancer's aftermath
By Alanna Kennedy
In 2004, Kim Klein, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., began to chronicle in a blog her experiences as a new law school student and busy mother of three. But soon after starting classes, she found that she was, in fact, too busy to blog. Then one day in April 2007, Klein discovered a lump in her breast that turned out to be stage I breast cancer. She began blogging again.
“I thought it would be a really good way to keep my family and friends up-to-date with what was going on, since they were spread out all over the country,” she says.
What started out as a way to keep loved ones in the loop during treatment soon turned into something more for Klein, now 42. In September 2007, she entered a scholarship contest sponsored by CollegeScholarships.org for students with blogs and won the grand prize of $10,000. Her blog received more than 9,000 votes.
“After that, people contacted me from all over the world,” says Klein, who’s amazed at the attention the contest generated for her blog. ”It has brought me into contact with so many people, and it allowed me to find a lot of support through other survivors and patients.”
These days, life has gotten mostly back to normal for Klein, who will start her final year of law school this fall. With no sign of cancer since November 2007, she continues to write, primarily about events in her life that have nothing to do with cancer. But her new status as a cancer survivor is often in the front of her mind. In the following blog post, Klein reveals how cancer is still very much a part of her life.
April 20, 2008
I have written before about how frequently I still think and talk about breast cancer. I am still dealing with several residual physical effects of chemotherapy, including, among others, menopause, weird nail issues, and nerve damage in my left arm and back. … There are left-over emotional issues, as well. … There are times when something unexpected triggers a very distinct, physical memory of chemo, which can be overwhelming sometimes.
I had one of those moments last week. I was getting ready to leave the house to go to school one morning and I decided to wear a bright fuchsia trench coat since it was such a beautiful day. I didn’t want to wear one of my dark scarves with the coat and I remembered that I had a scarf with all kinds of bright colors on it that I had worn on my head last summer. I ran upstairs, dug through the scarves hanging in the back of my closet, and pulled out the brightly colored one. As I began to unfold it to look at it, I was struck by my physical reaction to the colors, the pattern, and the feel of the scarf. Holding it made me feel almost nauseous, and I experienced a strong physical aversion to the scarf. I tried to tell myself that I was being silly, but I couldn’t overcome the feeling; I could hardly look at it. … It was a strange feeling because I have never had such a strong reaction to an article of clothing. …
I have held on to my scarves and hats out of some kind of superstitious fear of a cancer recurrence, but I think that I am going to donate them somewhere because I need to get them out of my house. I am sure that I will never, ever wear them again unless I have to go through chemo again, and I can’t wait around for that to happen!
To recommend a blog for CR’s Cancerblog column, send an e-mail to Kennedy@CRmagazine.org.
To read more of Klein’s blog, The Merits of the Case, please visit: blawgcoop.com/lawmom.