By Becky Musard
Kim Clark said she could tell by how quickly things were moving that it couldn’tbe good.
It was a Monday morning when Clark went in to get a mammogram and was given the news that she had breast cancer. By Thursday, she and her doctors were talking about surgery, and the following Monday morning, she was having a double mastectomy.
Clark was diagnosed at age 41, when she went in for her annual checkup, something she had failed to do the year before.
Over the course of the next two years, Clark, now 45 and a Rogue Community College student, underwent five surgeries, four doses of chemotherapy and 20 procedures.
During that time Clark decided to donate 14 inches of her hair to Locks of Love so they could make a wig out of it. “You never know what you can go through until you have to go through it,” Clark told reporter Sanne Specht of the Mail Tribune.
During her fight against breast cancer Clark was followed closely. She was featured in numerous ads and commercials with Asante and other organizations as she battled her cancer.
“I’m not one to sit still and do nothing,” Clark said. During her chemotherapy Clark needed something to keep her occupied. Throughout her recovery she produced two scrapbooks and a pink John Deere quilt.
“Pink John Deere is my thing,” Clark said.
The scrapbooks follow Clark through her battle with cancer. One of the scrapbooks is filled with articles. The other is filled with photos. They capture Clark before her cancer, during her chemotherapy, and without her hair. They also include many pictures of her farm and all that she lost.
The handmade quilt has been with her through it all, being displayed at all the events she has been a part of during her recovery.
A Mail Tribune story in February focused primarily on the auction of Clark’s possessions and her six-generation family farm that dates back to the early 1800s. Hoping to save them, Clark had written to Ty Pennington of Extreme Home Makeover, and even Oprah, but got responses from neither.
“I was in denial for so long, up until the auction,” said Clark, “then reality hit me in the head.”
Clark had no other options left but to auction off her possessions, hoping to make enough to be able to start over and support herself and her kids.
“There’s just so little support in Southern Oregon,” Clark said.
It was that lack of support that Clark had throughout her battle that has inspired her to return to RCC. Clark now desires to be a counselor for cancer survivors.
“Being back at school finally gives me something to look forward to,” Clark said. “And it proves to my kids that you are never too old to go back to school.”
Clark is now in the process of starting a new club at RCC, Affects of Cancer. The advisor will be Kim Bensen, and they are hoping to meet twice a month on Fridays. However, dates are not finalized.
The purpose of the club is to provide council for cancer patients and/or their family. Anyone who has experienced the toll of cancer, whether personally or from other friends and family members, can join.
“It’s just really needed here,” Clark said.
When asked for advice on overcoming battles as large as hers, she replied, “Just keep going. You have to be proactive. Things just keep happening and you just have to keep going.”