By Mrs Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)October 13, 2011
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- April was slated as her "health month", a time to focus on her annual checkups.
One of those appointments was her annual mammogram, a test she took seriously because of her family's history with cancer.
This year, Kathy Bundrum's test showed additional density and she was given two options. She was told she could wait six months then undergo another mammogram to see if the dense areas had changed or she could have a breast magnetic resonance imaging exam -- an expensive test that is not normally performed, but would give her physicians a better look at the areas of concern. Bundrum opted for the MRI.
"A lot can happen in six months," said Bundrum, a human resources specialist in the depot's Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, as she explained her decision not to wait.
And a lot has happened. Six months has passed since the start of Bundrum's health month. In that time, she had the MRI, a biopsy, and surgery.
"I found out June 14 that I had breast cancer," said Bundrum. "On June 27, I had a double mastectomy and am currently undergoing reconstructive surgery."
During the mastectomy, the surgeon removed lymph nodes to biopsy them and see if the cancer had spread. The nodes were clear, however, indicating she had caught the ductal carcinoma in its early stages.
"It is so important for women to know that if there are changes on their mammograms, they have to get checked. Without the MRI, I would not have been so fortunate," said Bundrum. "I feel the MRI saved my life."
Bundrum is thankful for the care and expertise of her surgeons, Dr. Susan Winchester and Dr. Michael Beckenstein, referred to her by two CPAC co-workers. She is also thankful to God and for the thoughts, prayers and support of her family and friends.
"I had a support group that was just amazing." said Bundrum.
Many of those friends purchased t-shirts and wear bracelets bearing her initials made by Bundrum's co-worker Sky Carpenter to show their support.
Nancy Cottrill and Melissa Lambert, who work with Bundrum in CPAC, were at the hospital when she had surgery, showing their support not only for Bundrum, but for her family as well.
"It is so important to have a great support system," said Lambert. "Sometimes you listen, sometimes you cry, and sometimes you just try to take their mind off it. Kathy's personality is so upbeat and she always looks for the silver lining. Throughout this ordeal, she has been more concerned about her family and friends and alleviating their worries."
Cottrill said she has been impressed by Bundrum's faith in Christ and spirit throughout this medical journey and credits that faith with helping her through the illness.
"I've never seen anyone with the strength that she displays," said Cottrill. "Her faith, family and friends have helped her through this, providing support when she needs it or just a listening ear. Kathy has been my inspiration and has become a strong advocate for women's health issues."
The members of Bundrum's support team used a variety of methods -- among them visits, phone calls and text messages -- to keep her spirits up. Many of them will continue that support Oct. 15 as they participate with Bundrum in the 20th Anniversary of the Race for the Cure at Linn Park in Birmingham. The race raises awareness and funds for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.