Strong For Hope


Stong for Hope
By Brandilyn Brown

I love being part of the View Crew. I get to meet incredible people that I wouldn’t get to meet through a typical job! A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend of Kristy Housewright-Ibarra, who is leading a Relay for Life team this year. I loved her story. I immediately knew I wanted her to be a part of our “Rosie the Riveter” issue. She is a gem of a person, who is the epitome of what is like to be a strong woman in the face of conflict.

Kristy was re-diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2013. A 44 year old mother of two high-school-aged kids, Kristy has overcome bone, lung and brain metastasis over this past year. While she is not cured, Kristy continues to hope that someday she will meet Ned. (Ned is an affectionate acronym for “No Evidence of Disease.”) She and her colleagues are raising funds for Relay for Life for the team KristyStrong. It is her sixth year participating, and her 2nd year as team leader in KristyStrong.

BB: Of All the charities you get involved in, why did you choose Relay for Life?
KH: The American Red Cross does so much for cancer patients that other charities don’t really do. They teach classes on looking and feeling good while enduring chemo. It was really important to me to look and feel my best. I wanted to be in control of my body as much as I could. I wanted to be ME, not a sick person. It is very difficult to lose your hair, but they help you cope with it with cute hairstyles and ways to wrap your head. They also have “Road to Recovery”, which provides rides to and from doctor’s appointments for patients who can’t otherwise get the care they need. Another thing they do, is they set you up with a mentor if you’d like one. Someone who knows the ropes and can walk you through navigating doctors, insurance, emotional life stuff, and be there for you. Relay for Life is a great event to get the whole family involved in making a difference, because cancer is a family disease. It effects the whole household. When everyone is keeping a positive mindset, it makes a difference in your care.

BB: Tell us about your diagnosis. What was your game plan? What did you know going into this a second time you didn’t know before?
KH: I’ve become a huge advocate of being scanned after your first chemo is complete. I was told that because I only at stage 2, I didn’t need to be scanned, but it could’ve helped me the second time around. It could’ve given me more information, or a better understanding of [my body]. I felt a cough the second time around, one that wouldn’t go away. I never suspected breast cancer from a cough, but it is because it had spread into my lungs and spine. A few months later, they suspected a blood clot, and I did have one, but it was the suspicion of [the blood clot] that lead us to down the right path to diagnosing the cancer. Currently I go to UCSF once a week, and that takes a full day. I’m working full-time because it helps keep me stay focused on something else. [My cancer] is not the focus of my day. You need to allow yourself to keep living life and have a focus. Although I’m doing really good, I also get scanned every three months because there isn’t anything they can do for brain cancer except radiation. We have to stay on top of that. Don’t be afraid to self-refer or advocate for yourself.

On Saturday, April 25 from 7-10 pm three bands will play a benefit show at the Queen Bean in Modesto to raise money for KristyStrong. Fallen Short and Monkey Knife Fight are both from Modesto, and Zen Arcadia is from Sacramento. The $10.00 per person door fee will go directly to Relay for Life and is a tax deductible donation.

Kristy would like to give a shout out to her husband Louie, her children Shelby & Lucas, and her friends Emily & Seth Murdock of Zen Arcadia, who helped put this event together.

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