‘I almost gave up’ – A Survivor’s Story

Kyra.jpgIn August of 2009, Kyra Pruitt White was 42-years old and, like many of us, was extremely busy. A mother to three boys and a grandmother to two, Kyra had recently accepted a promotion from her position within Value City Furniture. As if that wasn’t enough to keep her schedule full, the building she worked in was in the process of relocating. Kyra found her left arm growing increasingly sore, but she assumed that it was a combination of heavy lifting and her busy schedule. With all of her daily responsibilities, she just did not have time to slow down.

She was a little more nervous when she noticed a lump. Upon mentioning her symptoms and her worries, a coworker was determined that she would make an appointment with her physician. In fact, he didn’t leave her office until she made the call.

On August 12th, Kyra received the call that would change her life forever—she was diagnosed with Stage 3A Triple Negative breast cancer, notably one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, and was told that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. Kyra had been working with the Value City Race for the Cure Committee for nearly 15 years, but she never thought that breast cancer would come for her.

From there, Kyra began her fight at the James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University. Keeping her breasts was incredibly important to Kyra and so after many long discussions with her oncologist, she was able to undergo a surgery that would remove the cancer and affected lymph nodes, while allowing her to still keep her breasts, a decision for which Kyra is incredibly grateful.

kyrasonBut the battle was trying. Upon completing six initial rounds of chemotherapy, she stopped because she could not physically and mentally take it anymore. It was just too much. Kyra had an allergic reaction to Taxol. This meant finding a considerably more expensive treatment and proving to her insurance company with the help of her oncologist that the change in treatment was medically necessary, which put a temporary halt to her chemotherapy. Furthermore, Kyra’s port became infected, resulting in a staph infection that was, at the time, even more deadly than the cancer that she was fighting. She forged on with the support of family and friends, but with only three treatments remaining, it all just became too much.

“The chemo had pushed me to my mental and physical limits to the point that I felt like I wanted to give up. This was a point in my life that I asked, ‘God, WHY ME?.”

She told her nurses at The James that she wouldn’t be returning, and although they discouraged her from discontinuing treatment, she told them she just could not do it. It was at this point that Kyra met a kind stranger at a water exercise class that she regularly attended. The woman approached Kyra knowing nothing about her and told her that she needed to finish treatment. Kyra, a religious woman and the daughter of a preacher, knew this was a sign. She pushed through her final three chemo treatments and two months of radiation, while still taking care of her family, in particular her five-year-old granddaughter who accompanied her to every radiation treatment.

kyraNow that Kyra has been cancer free for six years, her focus is changing. She is still a sassy, busy mother, grandmother, and professional, but she knows that her purpose has become even more than these roles. She has taken on involvement with Komen Columbus’ Worship in Pink program and has specifically coordinated two Worship in Pink events. But it doesn’t end there. Kyra is also the leader of the Overcomers Cancer Ministry at her church, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Her goal is to raise awareness in the African American community and to educate women to do self-exams by driving her Enrich, Empower, and Educate message in relation to good health and breast cancer awareness.

She knows that women are busy, and sometimes are so involved with taking care of others and the day-to-day pressures of life, that they often push to the side their own care. Kyra uses the analogy that “on a flight you are advised to put your own oxygen mask on before you help someone else (kids, etc.) put theirs on. So please take care of yourself first. Put yourself first.”

Kyra continues to work with Value City, American Signature, and the Schottenstein family on their Race for the Cure Committee and is incredibly grateful to them for their support during her fight against breast cancer and her continued goal to expand awareness with Susan G. Komen Columbus and her church. The love and support of her family and friends continue to serve as a daily reminder of why she fought so hard to live, and she continues to emphasize this drive when speaking to other women and educating her community.

We are thrilled to announce Kyra Pruitt White as an Honorary Chair for the 2017 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure. Please join  her on Saturday, May 20 and catch her if you can! She is sure to be a busy lady continuing to do great things.

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