Community Connector on a Mission: A Q&A With Kathy Townsend

Insight Articles
January 5, 2018
By: 
Erin Rowley, Writer and Content Coordinator

Kathy Townsend, 48, from Helotes, Texas, was diagnosed with hormone receptorinfo-icon-positive, stage IV breast cancerinfo-icon to the bones in 2015. She has been married for more than 25 years and has three adult children and one teenager.

Kathy is a Living Beyond Breast Cancer Community Connector. The Community Connector program provides the tools and training to help volunteers use their personal breast cancer experience to make a difference in their communities.

Kathy answered questions about family life and her volunteer work from LBBC’s writer and content coordinator, Erin Rowley.

 

Erin

You’re a very family-oriented person. When you were diagnosed with breast cancer, how did it impact your family life?

Kathy

When I was first diagnosed with metastaticinfo-icon breast cancer, my family immediately went into a state of shock, disbelief and confusion.  

Erin

How did being diagnosed with cancer affect your relationship with your husband?

Kathy

I have a very supportive and loving husband. Even before I was diagnosed, he always put my needs above his own. This did not change after my diagnosisinfo-icon. He is even more invested in doing everything he can to ensure I am well cared for and happy.

My husband is a fixer by nature and he will stop at nothing to make sure my needs are met. Unfortunately, no matter how much he wants it, he cannot fix my cancer and he cannot change what lies ahead. That is something that weighs heavy on his mind. Learning to accept that I cannot be cured is by far the hardest thing he will ever have to face.

Erin

Has your cancer diagnosis brought the two of you closer together, or driven you apart in any ways?

Kathy

Cancer has in some ways made us closer. We try to take advantage of moments we have to spend quality time together. We do couples outings and trips together whenever possible. But in some ways it has also driven wedges between us, especially when it comes to intimacy. Physical intimacy has its challenges due to my hormone receptor-positive pathology and treatment. We are continuously searching for other ways to embrace intimacy.

We have good days and bad days. When times are good we try to enjoy them and not waste any opportunity for joy and happiness. When times are bad, we do our best to get through those moments by drawing strength from each other. We are learning to listen to each other, to take care of ourselves better and to take life one day at a time. I find it difficult to look too far ahead to the future. So instead, I live for today. We used to spend so much time preparing for the future, but now living in the moment has become our new normal.  

Erin

How has cancer affected your relationships with your children?

Kathy

Teaching my children to be independent has always been important for me as a parent. When I was diagnosed, it became even more urgent to ensure that all of them were secure and able to take care of themselves. My youngest daughter, who is still in high school, has had to bear the most weight of my diagnosis. She has not had the same type of support from me that her three older siblings had. In many ways, I need to lean on her for support. I often worry that she feels burdened by my diagnosis, but she assures me that she is OK and understands my limitations. 

Erin

How has cancer affected the way you and your husband parent your kids?

Kathy

I have a very open relationship with all of my children when it comes to my diagnosis. I think this has helped them feel more secure. Because we have always encouraged independence in our children, our parenting style really has not changed that much. I am very thankful that they feel comfortable going out into the world and finding their own paths. It brings me a sense of peace knowing they will be OK. 

Erin

Why is being an LBBC Community Connector important to you?

Kathy

One of the things I love about being a Community Connector is being given a chance to talk to people about my diagnosis. Stage IV breast cancer can be very isolating at times, and reaching out to others and telling my story gives me a sense of empowerment that I am making a difference.

I’ve volunteered at health fairs, participated in advocacy events and have had opportunities to mingle with researchers, physicians and pharmaceutical representatives. I have been truly amazed at the dedication of so many to supporting our community.

LBBC was one of the first charities that helped me to find a community of support, and I love being given an opportunity to help connect others who have been affected by breast cancer to this organization. Support is very important to help copeinfo-icon with the many overwhelming decisions and emotions that come with the territory of a breast cancer diagnosis.   

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