Day 1: How My Doctor Missed My Breast Cancer Symptoms


September 30th, 2021

37 mins 18 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

When Kristen noticed her right nipple felt different, her first thought was "what the F is this?" Her second thought was that her life was about to change.

So she did what everyone does in this situation... she jumped out of the shower, went to Google, and diagnosed herself with a rare form of breast cancer called Paget’s Disease. But Google’s never right about these things, so a few days later when the radiologist suggested a biopsy for Paget’s, shit got real.

Overnight, life became a tightly-woven schedule of appointments wedged between work: a biopsy, an MRI, a colonoscopy, and a million different labs and scans leading up to the first chemo treatment.

As a single woman with limited resources, Kristen had no choice but to advocate for herself, quickly figuring out the magic words to use with her healthcare providers to move the process along faster and start treatment sooner.

In this episode recorded on her first day of chemo, Kristen tells us what’s happened so far, including why her mammogram didn’t catch the tumor, what made her cry and what made her throw up at the first chemo appointment, and how nearly taking her own life a year earlier prepared her to confront breast cancer with strength and courage instead of defeat.

From the awful moment in the shower through the last day of radiation and beyond — this is Kristen’s breast cancer story, told in real time.


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Meet Kristen’s doctors: surgical oncologist Dr. Louis Rivera,hematologist and oncologist Dr. Sonia Ali, plastic surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella, and radiation oncologists Dr. Anuradha Koka and Dr. Kenneth T. Shimizu.

The most wonderful restaurant there is, Flower Child

About Breast Cancer Stories

Breast Cancer Stories follows Kristen Vengler, a 56 year old single empty nester in San Diego, from her diagnosis of hormone positive breast cancer through chemotherapy, mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, and whatever happens after that.

In 2020, Kristen moved from Austin to San Diego to be near family and start her life over after a life-shattering workplace trauma. A few months later she had that terrifying moment in the shower we all hope we never have.

From her breast cancer diagnosis, through chemotherapy, breast reconstruction, and radiation, we experience each new milestone as it happens. This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time.

Support the show by sharing online, writing a review, or donating at

Host and Executive Producer: Eva Sheie
Co-Host: Kristen Vengler
Editor and Audio Engineer: Daniel Croeser
Theme Music: Them Highs and Lows, Bird of Figment
Production Assistant: Mary Ellen Clarkson
Cover Art Designer: Shawn Hiatt

Breast Cancer Stories is a production of The Axis.