Breast cancer survivor Karyn Chisholm, a life-long Mainer from Topsham, is tough and explores Maine by hiking, water and snow skiing, swimming, and even fly fishing. Her friends call her fearless. She balances life with yoga, being in nature … and supporting other women who are struggling with health issues.
Karyn went through two battles with breast cancer – both found in routine mammograms. She began screening mammograms at age 35; her first diagnosed with cancer was in 2011 at age 42. Karyn had a family history of cancer.
Patrica Greatorex, MD, Maine Medical Partners – Surgical Care, performed lumpectomy surgery on Karyn to remove the cancerous tissue. In 2015, cancer was found again through a stereotactic biopsy in a different location of her breast. A double mastectomy was performed by Dr. Greatorex, and she went through reconstructive surgery later that year.
During the four years between surgeries, Karyn said the person who coordinated most of her care was Kim Lynch, RN, her patient navigator, at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, which is part of the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network. She coordinated care between radiation therapy at Coastal Cancer Treatment Center in Bath, provider visits at Mid Coast Medical Group – Breast & Surgical Oncology Center in Brunswick and outpatient surgery in Scarborough. “Kim was compassionate and professional,” said Karyn. “She was there for me during cancer treatments, appointments, and much more.” Karyn added that it was convenient to have the expertise of gifted professionals and care close to her home in Topsham.
She also credits her husband for his unwavering strength and for being ‘her ears’ during her care journey. Karyn said that you need that support when there are many details to remember. Karyn now supplies an ear to patients as a medical secretary for Women’s Health Care in Brunswick.
“I am opened in sharing my experience, and my colleagues know I can help support a patient who has received concerning news.” She said each woman’s healing process is unique. From learning how to cast for fish recently, coupled with the emotional benefits of connecting with nature and other women with cancer, Karyn is sharing a powerful medicine with others, along with her story on how screening saves lives.