She's one of the most renowned physical therapists giving talks around the world, a marathoner and has survived breast cancer twice. We are honored to share Michele Kehrer's story in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In 2006, I started my company. I was newly married and so excited about all the possibilities life could bring. As I went through my first year in business, my marriage quickly unraveled. We made great friends and marriage just did not seem like it was going to work out.
September 2007, all that was normal in my life quickly was turned upside down. I left my marriage, two days later my business turned one year old and about 10 days later I found out I had cancer for the first time. Talk about getting some curveballs!
Above: Michele Kehrer
Some of my most positive traits is my ability to be tenacious, resilient and resourceful. I needed all of this and more to make it through the next year. Honestly, the good thing about having all of those life events at the same time is that one cannot take any of them too seriously. When I would get bad news about cancer, my ex would do something crazy with the divorce and then I would need to get more business! I found a strange little balance in all the chaos.
I made it through my 2008 with some scrapes and I made it. I made it through chemotherapy with a couple of rounds of full anaphylactic shock. My hair started to grow back. I underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy to take my risk of getting cancer again down to <1%. And my business thrived and I was newly single. I was feeling great about myself. So much so I ran the Chicago half marathon with only 6 weeks of training. Truly, I was ecstatic!
Then, it was time for one of my many follow up appointments with my doctor, it was Christmas eve. A resident in the room made a comment to do breast exams. To know me, you would know that I make snarky, inappropriate jokes to get through stressful times. I laughed and said, "Why would I do breast exams? I do not even have any breasts. These are silicone and I have 18-year-old boobs forever!" They laughed and said to keep up the breast exams.
Four days later, I found a lump. I knew with all of myself that this was very bad. I had stage IV cancer. I was officially diagnosed in January 2009. 2009 was a mess. None of my doctors could agree on what to do next. They finally settled on radiation.
My summer of 2009 was spent in daily radiation treatments and total exhaustion. Thankfully, I had so many great friends to lean on during that time.
After I was done with that I had to take a daily medication for 10 years. I am very happy to report that on August 24, I finished my very last pill. I am now considered cancer-free and am at no more risk of cancer than anyone else in the world! I feel exuberant, free and so grateful for all the possibilities that life has to offer!
You can learn more about Michele and the work she's doing HERE.