Contestant #1 - Katrina Lynn Jackson

Hello my name is Katrina L. Jackson, I am 49 yrs. Old I live in Tacoma Washington and I have worked for the Department of Corrections for 15 yrs. , I am currently a Correctional Lieutenant for the Washington States Department of Corrections.. I work at Monroe Correctional Complex at the Special Offenders Unit/Intensive Management Unit in Monroe Washington. I would like to add that out of 17 Correctional Lieutenants here at the Monroe Correctional Complex I am the only female.

In Brief, this is my story!!

 

The end of January 2009 I was 43yrs old, I went in for my normal yearly mammogram, a few days later I was contacted and was informed that they needed me to come back in and have another mammogram done on my left breast, I returned and they told me my films appeared to be abnormal, February 2009 I went in for another mammogram and ultrasound at that time they said it was too concerning but wanted to keep an eye on me and for me to return in late May for another mammogram. In May 2009 my breast real really sore and tender so I called my physician and after my appointment with him he sent me in early for another mammogram, after the procedure I stayed so the films could be read by the physician on duty, I was informed that everything looked clear we will see you in January for your yearly examine. At the time I was so relieved and went on with my life as normal the only difference is I was conducting a self-examine three to four times a week I was pretty paranoid. On October 24the 2009 while showering I conducted a self-examine and felt an odd lump in my right breast and it was painful, I called my husband Jerry and told him to feel it he too thought it left abnormal.  I have a good friend “Lynn Wilds” who has battle breast cancer 3 times, and has had a double mastectomy she was able to calm me down, I figure who better to call then an “old hand” at this breast cancer thing. I went in on October 29th, and saw my doctor’s physician assistance she stated “Well it is little odd, I said do you think it is cancer, it hurts she responded by saying well cancer doesn’t hurt, let’s keep an eye on it and see you back in two weeks.” I said No; I want to go get a mammogram just to be sure. My doctor said okay it that is gonna make you feel better; November 5th, 2009 at 11:00am I went in for my 4th mammogram since January after the pictures were taken from my mammogram, they took me in for an ultrasound, I waited for about an hour and they came out and said can you come back Monday for “BIOPSY”!!! I

Contestant #2 - Natashia Robinson

Contestant #3 - Nicole Bachmeier

I'm Nicole soon to be 5 year cancer survivor and will celebrate my 40th Birthday this June. I believe once you are a fighter you are always a survivor. I was diagnosed in May 2010. I had found my own lump and what followed after that was a journey that I never thought would be mine. It all happened so quickly and was such a blur. I'm a go after them type of girl so we took the bull by the horns and partied, we had a say good by to the TATA's party, choose bilateral mastectomy, learn to administer IV antibiotics so I could go home rather than stay in the hospital. I had delayed reconstruction and here we are today, in a nutshell. I currently work in the medical field and have been on my personal health and wellness journey through It Works. My goal is to find a platform were I can help women of all ages prepare for this journey when it is there time.

 

Contestant #4 - Kristina Barnes

Hi, I’m Kris. I was initially diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma in May of 2009. cinco de mayo, to be exact. Cancer treatment is difficult enough, but I outdid myself. I had 8 rounds of chemo, then multiple surgeries (twelve, in fact) for diagnosis of issues, complications, and reconstruction.

 

Each year on January 14th, I celebrated another cancer-free birthday. I reached my 5-year mark in 2015 and thought I was home-free. My life was full with family and a new nursing job, and I was in the middle of nurse practitioner school.

It was June 1st that I felt tenderness in my underarm. After 2 days of it, I saw my oncologist. It looked like just lymphedema, but he ordered an ultrasound to be sure. As I lay on the ultrasound table, I knew the cancer had returned, and a biopsy that day confirmed it. And life changed again.

 

This time it was a lymph node dissection to start. Though the scan found only 3 masses, the surgery revealed more. Twelve of the fourteen lymph nodes removed were cancerous. It was Stage 4 now. Six rounds of chemo followed, then 28 rounds of radiation. To the uninitiated, these may just seem like numbers. But to those of us fighting cancer, each number represents a battle in the war, the fight for life.

 

So now I’m in the process of resuming the rest of my life. I’m planning on longevity because I have great family and friends with whom I want to share my time, and big dreams that I need to pursue. Like being a nurse practitioner, guiding new initiates on the cancer journey, and seeing more of the world.

 

Contestant #5 - Monica Riggs

My name is Monica Riggs. I'm 46 yrs old. I'm the mother of 8 wonderful children and Grandmother of 3 amazing little ones. On April 13, 2009 I was diagnosed with stage 4 Breast cancer. I had a mastectomy, radiation and very aggressive chemotherapy. Everything looked great until March of 2014. My cancer mastisized to my liver. I had 3 tumors when they found it. The largest being 5cm. I am currently doing chemotherapy. I will never beat this. The therapy I am doing now is to prolong my life. We just recently Jan 2016 had to stop chemotherapy for awhile because two medications I was on has done damage to my heart. I am now taking heart meds and we will be starting a new chemotherapy medication.

 

I spend my days doing new things, spending lots of time with my family, children and grand babies. Making every minute matter. I help to take care of my best friend Georgia Schlitt who is currently on hospice care. She has the same cancer that I do. I wouldn't change a thing because she has been by my side through my cancer, treatments, ups and downs. Asking the hard questions and celebrating the good times. I also train and ride my horse Cinder. And am teaching my grand babies to love and ride horses. Am I scared. Oh yes but I thank God every morning I wake up and have another day with my family and friends.

Contestant #6 - Georgia Schlitt

My journey...my life was beautiful. My partner and I had recently purchased a beautiful home near my parents in a friendly neighborhood.  My adult children were doing well. Life was great! Then my mothers health turned for the worst..after a hard fought battle,she passed away. I was devastated.  It was a struggle for me, my grief was deep, but I knew with time, I would get back to my friendly, outgoing self.

My moms celebration of life was in August.  Late October she came to me in a dream and told me to go to the doctors.  I told my closest friends of the dream, I told my partner, the dream really shook me up.  My partner and my friends told me to go and get the mammogram, it would ease my mind, it was just a dream. Seven days later I was informed I had stage four metastic breast cancer. One month after that,I had a double mastectomy. Life was spinning out of my control.  I hadn't even finished grieving my mother and now I was facing an uphill battle with breast cancer. This truly wasn't how I had envisioned my life in my new home with the love of my life!

I battled with the decision of what kind of treatment to do..should I do chemo? Should I face it naturally? What to do!

My partner was by my side the whole time thankfully, the information was coming fast, names of drugs I had never heard of,being spoken like it was normal dialogue. She sifted through all of the scientific jargon and tried to explain everything to me.

I didn't want chemo, but it just seemed the only successful way to go..boy was I wrong.  My first treatment put me into the emergency room, I had another underlying disease that enhanced the damage the chemo did, that the doctors were unaware of..chemo wasn't for me.

We did more research and decided to manage my cancer with medical marijuana.  During this time my body just isn't feeling right..something just seems out of synch.  My bones ached, my memory was getting foggy..my body was new to me..somehow foreign, yet familiar.  I told the doctors, they did test after test..finding nothing. I began getting the sense the doctors felt all of my symptoms were in my head. Boy, did they end up being wrong!

The doctors gave me a year and half to live after my mastectomy, without chemo, it has been an additional year and eight months since I passed my expiration date. I have laughed and lived, made beautiful memories with my family and friends. It hasn't always been fun, but I have survived..I am a survivor!

I sit here now typing,attached to my oxygen with my pain pump religiously providing me some relief from the pain I have..the doctors were wrong..there was something wrong. The tests didn't find out until too late, I wasn't crazy. The cancer has returned, this time hidden and when it decided to reappear..it's inoperable too close to my heart, slowly engulfing my lungs..but I am still a survivor, a fighter still smiling and making wonderful memories everyday! My story continues..

Contestant #7 - Angee Raye

My name is Angee Raye, I am a mother of three wonderful children who I have raised with my husband of 14 years.  On January 25, 2013 I found out that I had an aggressive stage 3 form of breast cancer which turned my life upside down. After discussions with my oncologist and surgeon we decided to do a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. I started chemotherapy right away to shrink the tumor before surgery. Two months later I had the lumpectomy and 15 lymph nodes removed from my right breast. After 8 months of chemo, 37 rounds of radiation and a year of Herceptin I was cancer free. Despite all the many side effects from treatment I have kept moving forward pushing myself for my family. I was in remission for a year until recently I had my yearly mammogram which revealed that the cancer has returned and I will need a double mastectomy. Despite my diagnosis I continue to live as normal a life as possible, taking mini vacations with my husband and kids, spending time with my grandma, taking care of my ill mother, hanging with my survivor sisters and performing with my husband who is a singer/songwriter. My faith in God is what keeps me going, I feel my purpose in life is to bring light to others through my relationship with God.