Kathy Helton // Breast Cancer Navigator

Helton-smileKathy Helton spends her days at Houston Woods planning events and her evenings and weekends with her family in Liberty. At 44-years-old, she loves being with people, going to ballgames and mostly spending time with her three sons and two grandchildren.

However, life has recently led Kathy and her family through a two-year challenge – breast cancer.

In December of 2009, Kathy had her annual mammogram, which was clear. Things quickly changed, though, and in February she began to notice signs – swelling, redness and irritation – leading her back to her primary care physician, Dr. William Fisher.

After an additional mammogram and biopsy, Kathy sat in an exam room where Kathy Macdonald, R.N. shared the news she dreaded hearing. She had stage four inflammatory breast cancer, the rarest form.

Kathy was very familiar with cancer. “My husband’s parents both died of cancer and my adoptive mother died of breast cancer,” she said. “My mom had a positive attitude about her 15 years ago.” Kathy chose to follow that lead, saying she and her husband have learned to laugh through the difficulties.

Kathy Macdonald is a Reid Breast Cancer Navigator. Her role is to walk patients through each step of the process. “My job is not only to navigate, but to educate,” she said. “Kathy became educated about her disease and took an active role in her treatment.”

“Kathy Macdonald explained everything to me,” Kathy said. “She is a very soothing, comforting and understanding person.

During her first treatment, Kathy’s husband and sons all came and sat with her. The nurses helped them through the emotional, yet meaningful, time for her. “I was more worried about them than myself,” said Kathy. “I was overwhelmed that they would all come and be with me through the entire chemotherapy treatment.”

Kathy underwent several rounds of treatments, both chemotherapy and radiation. During that time, Kathy Macdonald helped direct her to resources in the community and at Reid. From financial assistance, exercise regimen, bra fittings and wigs, “She was right there with me!” Kathy said. “She knows what you need before you do.”

As Kathy looks to the future, she will undergo reconstructive surgery later this year. She still loves her job and supportive co-workers. She has a husband and family who “love her no matter what.” And she chooses to overcome her circumstances.

Offering a bit of advice to other women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, Kathy said, “First pray. Secondly, if you need treatment, go to Richmond. Finally, laughter is the best medicine!”

Breast Cancer Navigator
When a patient receives a startling diagnosis like breast cancer, they often don’t know how they will get through. Then, in walks the Reid Breast Cancer Navigator, who calmly shares the options and steps necessary to overcome the disease.

Every day, women like Kathy need a friend who will remember their name. They need someone to provide education and assist with difficult decisions. They need someone to hold their hand through a treatment.

The Reid Breast Cancer Navigator helps to set appointments, find resources, and answer questions.

“I have a friend who went through breast cancer six years ago, and she still talks about Kathy Macdonald!” Kathy said.

Reid Foundation chooses to support women in the community through the Breast Cancer Navigator program. Please consider joining us and making a donation to the cancer fund.