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Kim’s Story: ‘I Knew Right Then I Was In Trouble’

Kim Jagd has always been an athlete, from playing tennis, basketball and softball as a preteen to earning a college scholarship to play volleyball at the University of California at Los Angeles. After graduating, she played professional beach volleyball and went on to serve as the first assistant volleyball coach at UCLA for 18 seasons. She was the picture of health. 

In the spring of 2006, while recovering from shoulder surgery, Kim, who was 42 at the time, felt something strange. “I was putting on my shoulder brace that they give you after surgery, and I reached over my right breast and felt something really weird,” she said. “I immediately felt around in the upper part of my right breast and felt a large walnut-sized lump in my breast. I knew right then I was in trouble.” 

Kim’s grandmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her 50s, but Kim’s main concern stemmed from the fact that her father had battled multiple cancers throughout his life before succumbing to bladder cancer that had metastasized to his liver. Kim knew what she needed to do next. She contacted UCLA’s athletic doctor and said, “Who’s the best person in the business at UCLA? I need to see somebody immediately.” 

Kim quickly underwent a needle biopsy, which confirmed her fears: invasive ductal carcinoma. Following the initial testing, doctors performed a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which found the cancer to be stage one and had not spread to her lymph nodes. “I woke up off that table and wanted to jump for joy because that meant my staging was going to be much better than what I expected it to be, having felt the size of the lump,” she said.  

After reviewing her options, she chose to proceed with a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. She also had genetic testing done, which showed she did not carry a BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation. Her total treatment lasted just under a year, and she managed to continue coaching at UCLA through it all, with support from her family, staff and team. 

“The team seemed very motivated by my situation, and they took us all the way to the Final Four in December of that year,” Kim said. “They seemed to rally, adapt and care in a different way because of the situation I was in.” 

Following her retirement from UCLA in 2010, Kim moved to the Coachella Valley, where she honed her golf skills – winning her club championship – and came upon a new passion: pickleball. She excelled at the game and quickly became one of the country’s top professional players. 

“There’s something about the passion for pickleball that draws this unique camaraderie,” Kim said. “They take care of each other and want to give back, and that is a wonderful thing.” 

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.