Positive attitude & humor help survivor overcome challenges

Positive attitude & humor help survivor overcome challenges

URBANA -- A local breast cancer survivor didn't inherit a breast cancer gene from her mom, despite her mom being diagnosed the year before she was.
URBANA -- A local breast cancer survivor didn't inherit a breast cancer gene from her mom, despite her mom being diagnosed the year before she was. Instead, she says testing revealed her dad was actually the carrier. It goes to show, breast cancer can affect anyone. But, mom and daughter got through it together. WCIA-3's Jillian Deam shares how this local survivor is helping others do the same.

Andrea Klingel never imagined she would be searching for the perfect wig.

"I always had long, blonde, curly hair."

But, this young mom knew that, and everything about her life would change when she discovered her breast cancer.

"Of course my first thoughts are my kids. I have two kids. At 34-years old, I felt a lump. The specialist felt it and said, 'this doesn't feel like anything, but do you have 20-minutes. Let's just do a biopsy.' And it came back as triple negative cancer."

Andrea credits this needle fro the biopsy with saving her life by catching the cancer when it did.

"It is one of the most aggressive types of cancer. It's a three out of three on the aggression scale. I did about six months of chemotherapy. Had a couple different surgeries."

Andrea lost her hair, but she never lost her spirit or her sense of humor.

"One of the perks to getting cancer, you get to try on different wigs."

She took part in the Look Good, Feel Better program at the American Cancer Society.

"People didn't know which Andrea they were going to see on any given day."

Some days, they saw her sporting a trendy style. Other days, she says she reminded people of her mother. And some even got to see the wilder side of Andrea with a bold look.

"It was something to just have fun with while you're going through it."

Her positive attitude and all the support helped her beat cancer. Now she's helping others do the same.

"I'm a member of the Young Survivors Coalition, so we help newly diagnosed women under 40. There's a lot of different challenges."

Andrea says her challenges are far from over.

"I always say, once you're a cancer survivor, you're always a cancer survivor."

This survivor knows she has the support and strength to get through it. As for those challenges she mentioned, Andrea is now living with lymphedema as a result of her cancer treatments.

Since her lymph nodes has to be removed, fluid builds up in her arms, chest and back. She uses a pump and compression garments every day now. Andrea says it could happen to any cancer survivor, whether it's right after treatment or even many years later.

That's why she says she's thankful for her support network. You can join Andrea and other survivors Saturday at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event. It's at Crystal Lake Park. There will be a special Survivors Tent with activities. It's free and all breast cancer survivors are invited.

For more information, click here.
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