Karen Bova has fought cancer twice and each time brought a different lesson.
In 2006, she was diagnosed with cancer in the right breast—ductal carcinoma in situ or inside the milk ducts. “Because it was non-invasive, they were able to do a mastectomy and reconstruction… It took me a couple months to recover from the surgery, not the cancer, but the surgery. And I was fine, moving right along.”
In February 2016 – just nine months short of her 10-year survivorship anniversary — a large mass was discovered in her left breast. “This time, it was a form of cancer called HER2. It’s a very aggressive, but yet curable cancer.”
“The first time it happened, I was shocked… but I trusted my doctors and I went through it and I took care of it. The second time it was a blow. I got very scared because the first time around I didn’t have to have all those treatments,” she relates.
She went straight into six rounds of chemo every three weeks from March through July, and it reduced the size of the mass 75%. “In August 2016, I had another mastectomy on the left side, and a week later, the reports were back that I was cancer-free.”
“The first cancer brought me to God and got me through it. The second cancer—I was waiting to learn the next thing. This time, He’s taught me empathy.”
Seeing the struggles of other patients had a big impact on Bova. “My husband and I would sit through my chemo treatments, which lasted four hours, and we’d see people so much sicker than I was. Some of the things I saw took my breath away, but I know God was with me both times. I have a very strong belief that He’ll get me through everything I need to go through.”
Even with the difficulties of treatment, Bova didn’t stop working. She’s a special education para-pro at Grayson High School. “I didn’t stop my life. And that’s what I want people to know. You don’t have to stop your life… You may just have to adjust the direction.”