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Kim Hennes: The Ovarian-Breast Cancer Connection

“What about Thanksgiving and Christmas? If I don’t do Thanksgiving and Christmas, no one’s gonna do it!”

These were Kim Hennes’ words as she tried scheduling a hysterectomy with her gynecologist in advance of the fast approaching 2005 holiday season. A year spent battling what she thought were menopausal symptoms had finally come to a head.

“It was a Wednesday,” recalled Hennes, then 49, a marketing executive in Wilmington. “That Friday morning I went to work out, pulled into the office parking lot, and the next thing I knew I was down on all fours. My first thought: ‘Forget Thanksgiving!”

Hennes’ humorous anecdote, however, belied a more serious, and potentially fatal, reality.

“I had to have an emergency hysterectomy, and when they opened me up, they found I had stage III ovarian cancer,” said the now 52-year-old Hennes.

Enter Zimmer Cancer Center’s Walter Gajewski, MD, a gynecological oncologist.

“I hadn’t even met the guy until he appeared by my bedside after the hysterectomy,” said Hennes. “But today I credit him with saving my life … he’s so amazing, along with the rest of the Zimmer staff.” Hennes went through 18 weeks of chemotherapy and is now cancer free.

To endure long days of chemotherapy and help speed her recovery, Hennes tapped her creative energies as a writer and planned her 50th birthday party, a week at Bald Head Island with all her best girlfriends.

“I planned everything from food to creating a ‘remember when’ CD full of favorite songs from the good old days,” said Hennes. “I completed chemo in late March, and we held the big party in April. My friends flew in from all over the country ... some I had known since I was four.”

Hennes also credits her healing to journaling and talking with other cancer survivors, which allowed her to “express the fear of cancer in a way that prepared the way for healing.” Hennes wants to make sure other women are aware of cancer’s risks and early symptoms.

Months after Hennes finished chemotherapy, a lump was detected in her breast.

“Dr. Gajewski told me there was a link between ovarian cancer and breast cancer, and advised me to get it checked out. I said, ‘What? I had no idea (there was a connection)!’” recalled Hennes, whose breast biopsy was negative. “It’s a connection more women need to know about.”



 
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