When Kim found love and a new home in rural Tennessee, she was hiding a frightening secret.
She had discovered a lump in her right breast, but had told no one – not even her daughters.
Her story began years earlier. After working night shifts as a single traveling nurse, Kim decided it was time to settle down. She bought two cats and let a friend set up her profile on a dating site.
There, she found Ron, a fellow “animal freak” who had settled in the tiny town of Thorn Hill, Tennessee. The two connected immediately and talked about everything, before finally meeting in person. They now live on Ron’s 230-acre farm with five dogs, 17 chickens, two cats and nine goats.
Before their marriage, Kim knew she should get a mammogram, but she had inadvertently bought health insurance that provided for catastrophic coverage alone and didn’t cover basic healthcare.
Newly married and now under Ron’s insurance plan, she went in for a screening, which confirmed her suspicions. It was breast cancer.
She consulted with some breast cancer specialists in her area. Her doctors recommended a lumpectomy and proton therapy for breast cancer at Provision CARES Proton Therapy.
While researching her treatment options, she realized she didn’t want to have traditional radiation therapy. Although effective at killing cancer, traditional radiation is less precise and can damage healthy tissue and organs surrounding the tumor. This makes future health issues such as heart disease, lung disease, and developing a secondary cancer a greater possibility in the future.
Proton therapy, and in Provision’s case pencil beam scanning in particular, precisely targets the cancer site. Protons, by their nature, expend most of their energy in a fixed location. This makes it easier to focus treatment on the cancer site and avoid unnecessary radiation around the tumor.
“You wouldn’t want to subject yourself, let alone someone you care about, to the old style of radiation,” Ron said.
Kim’s cancer journey has turned her and Ron into activists. They made t-shirts to sell and donated the proceeds to the Provision CARES Foundation, which helps support cancer patients and their families. They also plan to lobby for legislation that would encourage more insurance companies to cover proton therapy.
For Kim’s part, while she initially kept her diagnosis secret, she realized that many others have suffered from the disease. And she’s ready to speak out.
“We feel like this happened for a reason, and we’re not going to sit back.”