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Looking at life through the eyes of cancer survival
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014 9:30 PM

 

By JIM LANGHAM • Feature writer

When Paulding’s Krista Gonzales sat down to watch television with her husband on a July evening in 2011, little did she realize she was about to encounter an unanticipated experience that was going to change her world.

“I always put my hand on my chest when I am watching TV,” said Gonzales. “Something that night didn’t feel right. I asked my husband about it and he said it’s probably nothing but suggested I might see our doctor.”

 

The family doctor, Dr. Joseph Kuhn, in Payne, had the same response but suggested that she might get it checked out.

 

When Gonzales conferred with a doctor at the local hospital following some tests, she was totally shocked. She was informed that the biopsies had indicated cancer and that she needed to address the problem immediately.

“I wasn’t worried at all. In fact, I was so confident that nothing was wrong that I drove to the doctor alone,” observed Gonzales. “I didn’t know what to say when he gave me the report. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I didn’t hear a thing he said the rest of the time I was there.”

Because of the nature of the cancer, Gonzales decided to go to a doctor at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne with the thought of having a reconstruction surgery.

“I was stunned, once they got back their reports, things were worse than I thought,” said Gonzales. “There are two kinds of cancer in the breast and I had both of them.”

Gonzales then underwent a double mastectomy and had some lymph nodes removed from her right side. She also took chemotherapy in September of that year.

To add drama to the situation, Gonzales cracked a rib during that time period. A first cousin, who had also suffered from breast cancer, was concerned that the disease might have developed into bone cancer and insisted that she get it checked out. Fortunately under the circumstances, it was determined that the injured rib had occurred during a coughing spell.

These days, Gonzales notes that her innate sense of strength got her through the unexpected ordeal.

“I am a strong person anyway. This made me even stronger. I didn’t really stress over it,” said Gonzales. “I had great support. We have such an amazing family and network of friends. My husband (Charles) was such a help with the kids and house.

“My mom was phenomenal with the kids. Friends and family brought in food. I never realized what encouragement and support meant until this,” continued Gonzales.

These days, Gonzales has an entire different outlook on life. She has always been close to her family, but she won’t miss anything, even the smallest things, involving her children.

“I was not able to attend some football games while I was sick. That just broke my heart,” Gonzales said. “That was the hardest thing for me.”

Last year, Gonzales was involved in an event in Fort Wayne known as “Francine’s Friends,” an event in which she publicly made some comments about the illness at a fashion show at the Expo Center.

“This was something I would have never done, but the opportunity to speak out for cancer was worth it,” observed Gonzales.

Prior to the cancer incident, Gonzales hadn’t been involved with the local American Cancer Society Relay For Life. She will help lead the Survivor Lap on May 30 to open the two-day event. Now, as an honored survivor this year, the opportunity to be involved and to help anyone who has need in the area has become a passion.

“I see everything differently these days,” said Gonzales, who works at the Paulding Police Department. “It’s so amazing how the whole community comes together to raise such a phenomenal amount of money. I feel honored to be involved with this.”

For further information concerning the local Relay For Life this month, see the website at www.relayforlife.org/Paulding.