June 1st is the 21st Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, recognized the first Sunday of June. For the 12 million cancer survivors in this country every day should be celebrated and we are joining in. We are celebrating life after cancer with part of the KSFY family. I spent the morning with our friends Phil and Kristie Schreck. Kristie is a breast cancer, one year this month.
Kristie says, "I was shocked. You just don't think it's going to happen to you."
In May of 2007, Kristie Schreck was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hours after she got the devastating news, wave two hit.
Kristie says, "I immediately called my brother and sister and they came over immediately. My brother told me he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He found out three weeks earlier. And then things changed. I knew I wasn't going through this alone, not that I wanted my brother to have cancer by any means, but it helped going through it with him because he knew what I was going through."
Phil says, "When she was diagnosed that was the low part but everything after that was good news. I just knew everything was going to be alright and I knew she was going to be fine. I knew that in the back of my mind."
Kristie says, "All the kids reacted differently to the news. The oldest, Jake (who was 13 at the time), said does that mean our summer vacation is canceled? My youngest daughter Mattie wanted to go out and play. She actually liked all the company we got while I was recovering. Grandma and Grandpa came to visit a lot, she loved it. "My daughter Sami who was 10 at the time, now I'm going to start crying.... She said are you going to die? Well that was it. I knew I needed to be there for these kids. I couldn't die."
Caught very early, Kristie opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and a summer of healing. Which meant she couldn't hold or hug her kids like she was used to doing. Phil took over the chores and taking care of the kids but Kristie wondered if not holding their young twin boys Luke and Gabe would have a lasting effect on them. She said if anything it helped them learn how to do things on their own earlier than the other three kids. This summer will be much different.
With tears streaming down her face Kristie says, " I don't think a day goes by that I'm not grateful for Phil, the kids, for the sunshine, a new day waking up and seeing the kids. Being able to do things with them. I don't think anyone looks at you the same way that knows you. My friends and family see a different Kristie, and that's not good or bad, it's just different now. I'm a different person now. Like Dr. Amy Krie, my Oncologist at the Avera Cancer Institute told me.. She said, your life will forever be changed because of going through this. She was right. You notice when the birds are chirping, and when the trees are budding and maybe you haven't noticed those things in the past. You have a greater appreciation for everything. I know I love Phil more now because we had to be there for each other and I appreciate my kids more now I think than I did before."
I think people who have had to deal with cancer will tell you it's a family battle. The Schreck's are family to me, and to so many of you who have invited KSFY in to your house every night., and I know that I speak for so many of you when I say I am so grateful Kristie lived to tell her children how mommy fought cancer and won.