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, double mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, and whatever happens after that. This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time.
In 2020, Kristen moved from Austin to San Diego to 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. If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and have no idea where to turn, this podcast is here to help you through the shock of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Kristen had no breast cancer symptoms. The routine mammogram she had a few months earlier, which is the standard breast cancer screening, was completely clear. She found her tumor only because it had reached the surface of her skin. And in that moment, the entire world changed. One of the most detectable breast cancer signs is a lump in the breast or underarm, and Kristen found hers in the shower.
What causes breast cancer? This is largely a mystery for most women, but Kristen had a few ideas about what might have contributed to hers. The first thing she blames is stress. Not just everyday stress, but two years before her breast cancer diagnosis she endured a life-altering and prolonged injustice at work, eventually resulting in the loss of her job and complete financial ruin. That trauma sent her to rehab and into recovery, and ultimately back to her hometown San Diego to start her life over.
Five years later, the lawsuit is still in progress, so the details will remain confidential until it’s safe to share that story. And when the time comes, your jaw will be on the floor.
As Kristen reaches each new milestone, we learn the language of cancer and work our way through the endless unknowns, from understanding the breast cancer stages to the variations in breast cancer treatment. We notice that her doctors carefully stay in their lanes and learn what each of them do and don’t do.
Our observations and obsessive questioning begin to uncover patterns in cancer care that we don’t understand, particularly the philosophy of shared decision making. As Kristen grapples with the staggering decision about whether or not to have radiation, we wonder how cancer patients are expected to make confident, educated decisions on their own.
While the breast cancer survival rate is 90% according to the internet, it doesn’t stop well-meaning onlookers from making assumptions that are unfair or uninformed. Survival rate might be high, but what does survival actually look like? There is no return to normal when you come out on the other side.
Breast Cancer Stories brings us behind the scenes of a disease that affects so many families, yet is surrounded by so many myths and stereotypes. Kristen brings her full authentic self to every episode to reveal the things we never hear about having breast cancer.
If you are battling breast cancer yourself, Kristen will help you feel less alone, more understood, and more informed. If you are searching deep in the web for breast cancer information, one of the most beneficial ways to feel less lost is hearing real stories from people like Kristen. Whether you have a friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend with breast cancer, or you lost a loved one to it, Breast Cancer Stories will help you better understand what’s happening.