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Women's Health - Littleton resident can attest to cancer treatment getting easier over time

Women share stories of courage, strength and survival

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AT 65, Littleton resident Kathy Skosich, could easily write a book on the history of cancer and treatments. Her filing box of medical records could fill volumes. She has been battling cancer off and on for 20 years, and is currently fighting the cancer that has taken root in her bones.

After going through several kinds of cancer in her lifetime, Skosich has one piece of advice for other cancer fighters.

“Educate yourself, but don’t scare yourself with statistics,” she said. “At one time I tried to find my survival odds from online information, and I believe that statistically I might be dead and just don’t know it.”

Skosich was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, and endured a year of chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy of her right breast.

Through breast cancer treatment, Skosich said she relied on a sense of humor to get her through.

“I remember after my mastectomy I was feeling pretty good one day, and went striding into the department store to do some shopping. I didn’t have reconstructive surgery, so I just had some padding tucked into my bra. The movement dislodged it, and it fell out my shirt and onto the ground. I stomped it into submission and threw it in my purse.” Skosich said laughing as she recalled the memory.

Looking back now, still showing hints of her sense of humor, Skosich said she wishes she had taken the time to educate herself better on even the little things, adding, “So ladies, sew the padding into your bra.”

Now, decades after getting through breast cancer, Skosich had growths develop in her thyroid that required another round of cancer treatments. Shortly after chemotherapy, she developed congestive heart failure.

This most recent ordeal is where Skosich said she has really learned how treatment for women has changed, becoming better.

“I remember my shock when the cardiologist told me that as recently as 10 years ago that would have been a very bad outlook, but we have medications we did not have then,” she said. “It seemed unfair that I would survive cancer, but be at risk from the side effects of the medication.”

Treatments have changed dramatically in the past 20 years, according to Skosich. Today she receives monthly shots of Faslodex, and takes Ibrance pills. The treatment has thinned her hair, but is far more tolerable in regards to the side effects than treatments of the past.

“I remember years ago receiving chemo, and sitting there, watching the IV drip the medicine into my veins. One of the drugs was bright red, and I just couldn’t get over the thought they were pumping poison into my body,” she said.

Skosich admits she has no idea why she is still alive, but suspects it’s her good humor, and, she might just be too busy to die. Her home is adorned with little things that make her laugh, like a motion activated Komodo dragon that sticks his tongue out, and for when she needs a laugh, a dancing gopher that plays the song from Caddyshack, which she dances along with.

She and her husband John have raised two children, and outlived 40 pets of various sizes and breeds. To help deal with this latest round of cancer, Skosich is nearly finished remodeling her kitchen.

When her latest fight against cancer is over, Skosich said she might take a break from home projects and travel to Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

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