Young mom grapples with breast cancer diagnosis

At age 35, the young mom of two did not expect to be in the fight of her life.
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT
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CULLODEN, W.Va. (WSAZ) - At age 35, Monica Keiling did not expect to facing stage 3 breast cancer.

“That’s probably been the worst part of all of it, is the waiting, the worrying,” she said. “You know you probably have cancer, we don’t know where it’s at, we don’t know for sure, you’re just praying that it’s not.”

On Sept. 11, she noticed a lump. Within a few days she was in to get a mammogram, and her life changed forever. The young mom of two boys, says it was a major shock to their whole family.

“Playing every scenario in my head, where’s it at, where did it move to, how bad was it,” she said.

Women are encouraged to get a mammogram each year starting at age 40. St. Mary’s Breast Center says if your mother or sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, you should begin getting screened 10 years prior to their diagnosis.

They estimate about 50% of eligible women living in the tri-state area have not undergone a breast cancer screening.

Many people put off getting it done due to the pandemic, and doctors across the country are concerned because they’re seeing more late stage cases pop up in patients.

“We all have to take care of ourselves, especially women because we’re busy taking care of everyone else in the family,” said Anne Hammack, clinical coordinator. “It’s really important because it only takes a few minutes and you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone.”

Keiling admits she wasn’t performing self-exams on her breasts. She also has no family history of the disease either.

Doctors conducted genetic testing which came back negative, which leads her to believe it may be environmental.

Now, she’s encouraging other women to not delay, become their own health advocate and act quickly as soon as they realize something isn’t right.

“Luckily for me, I got my stuff started quite a bit faster with my second opinion,” she said. “I got chemo started within two weeks versus what could’ve been two months.”

Keiling will head to Atlanta next week for another round of chemo treatments, which she says have been brutal and have come with a lot of side effects.

She tells WSAZ she appreciates all of the love, kindness and support the community and other friends and family have shown her throughout this challenging time.

While the whole process has been difficult, scary and emotionally taxing, she hopes to spread awareness and save just one other person from this burden or heartache.

Even though she’s the one typically cheering on the sidelines of sporting events, she’s prepared to get in the game and start the battle of a lifetime.

“The kids really give you a lot to fight for,” she said.

To help the family financially, click here.

If you’d like to follow along with Monica on here journey, check out this Facebook page.

To learn more about St. Mary’s Breast Center, follow this link.

During the month of October, St. Mary’s Breast Center is offering free mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women who meet certain income guidelines. These mammograms will be paid for through the St. Mary’s Pink Ribbon Fund, a fund of the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation. For more information on how to qualify for a free mammogram, and/or to schedule an appointment call St. Mary’s Breast Center at 304.526.8221.

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