Focused on Life
When Breast Cancer Awareness Month arrives each October, Karyn Adams Bailey’s Facebook page “goes pink,” and she posts pictures of herself from when she was in treatment for breast cancer almost eight years ago.
She’ll post pictures, too, of someone who was her inspiration throughout — her 7-year-old daughter Reese.
Bailey was a little over four months pregnant when she got her breast cancer diagnosis.
“The biggest thing for me is I never felt there was a potential to die,” she says.
All of her attention was focused on the baby she was carrying.
“She and I have such a bond, going through that,” says Bailey of Reese, now a gymnastics-loving second grader at St. Aloysius Catholic School.
In 2006, doctors didn’t treat very many pregnant cancer patients.
Drs. F.A. Moore and Gerald Miletello developed a treatment plan that wouldn’t harm the baby.
Four chemo sessions delivered three weeks apart brought Bailey to within two and a half weeks of her delivery date and put her into remission. Comprehensive biophysicals were conducted weekly to ensure that the baby was OK.
Following her daughter’s birth, Bailey received several more chemotherapy treatments and 25 sessions of radiation.
She has been free of cancer since, although she deals with an unrelated, degenerative spinal condition in her neck. She deals, too, with the chance of reoccurrence, natural to any cancer survivor.
But, she says, “I try not to let anything stop me.”
Bailey says she’s learned, “The world still goes on, and you still have to put one foot in front of another.”
“I’d rather go down swinging,” she says.
She tells others people facing breast cancer to have hope.
“Don’t quit, don’t give up,” Bailey advises. “Find the good.”
Now divorced, Bailey is a teaching assistant at Reese’s school, though not in her class. Her family also includes her 21-year-old twins from an earlier marriage, Abby and Zack Liberto, both college students.
Bailey, her family, and friends walked in the local Susan G. Komen for the Cure event when it rolled around the first time after Reese was born. Reese was in a stroller for the walk.
Family and friends continue to participate in the walk in honor of Bailey and Reese.
“It’s not always just one” survivor, Bailey says.