Karen Kamps Solliday

Karen Kamps Solliday

Menomonee Falls, WI

Technical Writer

Age Diagnosed:

My Reason For Participating:
“It is my hope that as a Survivor Artist for the Rare Chair Affair, creating this chair will move me further along the path toward a healthy recovery. It’s very therapeutic to be among the other breast cancer survivors and to be creative.”

My Story:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram, in March 2003. My mother had survived a breast cancer diagnosis eight years earlier. It was mainly because of my mother’s breast cancer history, that I was diligent in having my mammograms each year.

I had a biopsy and I was diagnosed with a small area of invasive breast cancer as well as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). My treatment required two lumpectomies (margins after the first surgery were not clear) and a sentinel lymph node removal. The surgeon removed just one lymph node and it was clear. My breast cancer was very small, but still required radiation treatments. I was very fortunate that my mother was able to be with me for my surgical consultations. She and my dad kept my husband company during my two surgeries.

Just as I was to begin radiation treatments, my mother became very ill and was diagnosed with acute myologenic leukemia. She underwent chemotherapy, but the cancer did not go into remission and she died a little over a month later. Even though my mother was very ill, she remained concerned with my health and was adamant that I not delay my treatment in order to spend more time with her.

Then, a short time after I finished my radiation treatments, my sister suffered a burst brain aneurysm. Fortunately, she made an excellent recovery, but even so, she was in intensive care for more than one month and required another month of intensive rehabilitation.

As you can see, 2003 was a year of hospitals and medical crises for my family. I am still working through the pain and joy. I see my participation in this year’s Rare Chair Affair as one of the ways I can do that.