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Karin’s Story: Why I Walk

In 2011, Karin Moughler was shocked when she discovered a lump in her right breast. She was soon diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her treatment, she began volunteering with Komen in Nashville, where her MORE THAN PINK Walk team, Karin’s Pink Warriors, has participated in every event since 2012 to support Komen’s vision of a world without breast cancer. This is her story in her own words.

In early 2011, after selling a small business, my plan for the remainder of the year was to take a “mid-career hiatus.” Life had other plans. In late September, soon after I turned 42, I noticed a lump in my right breast while bathing. Completely stressed, I thought about calling my husband, John, at work, but then I thought, “What can he do from there?” He was an hour’s drive away.

I did what I could to busy myself the remainder of the day, cooked dinner and after we ate, I sat down in front of John on the couch and asked him to feel something. I had him put his hand where I had felt the lump. He replied, “that’s your breastbone.” Right then, I got worried. It was not my breastbone.

All the way through a visit with the OB/GYN, mammogram and ultrasound the very next day, I was convinced it was something benign, a cyst perhaps. The OB/GYN immediately scheduled me to meet with a surgeon. Again, “routine” I thought. The day I met with the surgeon, he sent me straight to the hospital for a biopsy. Now, at this point, I had not told my family that anything was even going on. After the biopsy, I thought I had best call my mom in Ohio. I was glad I did.

The next day, John went off to work. It never occurred to us for him to stay home that day. Just after 8 a.m., I received a phone call from the nurse at the surgeon’s office. I was groggy. She said, “You have breast cancer.” I was so confused. I couldn’t breathe. Then, I couldn’t stop crying. Somehow, I needed to call John and tell him. This could not wait until he got home. There’s nothing like pulling your husband out of his annual performance review to tell him this news.

Next, I called my mom. Her words still resonate. “I can’t believe this is happening again.”

Karin and her father on her wedding day.

You see, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998 at 51. He died six months later. The loss was so sudden and rocked me to my core. Almost 10 years after losing my dad, my maternal cousin died from metastatic breast cancer (MBC). So, my reference point and my family’s prior experience with cancer did not put me in a good place.

In November 2011, I had a partial mastectomy with oncoplasty, and after several weeks of recovery, underwent five weeks of radiation – including the week of Christmas, which made it impossible for us to visit our families in Ohio for the holidays for the first time ever.

Prior to my diagnosis, I had struggled with my weight. I decided to take charge of my health and get in shape. I started walking regularly and had even begun running a little bit. After learning I was anemic, I was better able to focus on my fitness. Then came my diagnosis and per my doctor’s orders, I was limited to just light exercise while going through treatment.

Once I got the green light, I started running again, and in 2012, I decided that I would run the 5K at the Greater Nashville Race for the Cure. It was in October, which was the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis. I had never run a 5K, but my goal was to run the entire race without walking. While I was at it, I decided to create a team and attended a race captain meeting and my team, Karin’s Pink Warriors, was born.

When it was all done, we were one of the top fundraising teams, and I ran the whole thing! My mom even came down and walked the 5K, and she did it every year until 2020. Since 2013, my aunts, uncle, cousins, friends, goddaughters and neighbors have joined us. We’ve made it a true celebration every October, complete with a Pink Party the night before the walk.

I also got involved with the local Susan G. Komen office at the time as an office volunteer. I completed Speaker’s Bureau training. I participated in Project: Facing Pink, a book and eventual blog featuring the stories of breast cancer survivors in the Nashville area. I was in a photo shoot for a calendar.

Karin and her husband, John, at an event for Project: Facing Pink in Nashville.

I had the opportunity to speak at women’s events. I volunteered at the Race for the Cure packet pick-up. I started a blog. I participated in fashion shows. I was the Honorary New Balance Team Member for the Greater Nashville Race for the Cure in 2016. I’ve been on the MORE THAN PINK Walk Planning Committee for several years, including this year.

I’ve met other survivors. I’ve met women living with metastatic breast cancer. I’ve joined a community of super supportive people. I’ve been connected to volunteer opportunities. Pretty much all of these were things I would NOT have done BBC: Before Breast Cancer.

I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I’ve chatted and supported dear friends in Ohio after they’ve received a breast cancer diagnosis. I often say that I will talk to anyone anywhere about breast cancer, breast health and the importance of early detection. If you see something (or feel something), say something. Know your body. Know yourself. Know what’s best for you. YOU are important!

Please join us for the Walk, as we walk toward our vision of a world without breast cancer.

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.