Guest Writer: Kim Naumann, Komen St. Louis Volunteer
Komen St. Louis volunteer Kim Naumann (left) and her breast cancer survivor mother, Tommie Lewis
I began my Komen involvement by walking in the 2nd Annual Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure. I knew I had personal family history with breast cancer. My maternal grandmother passed away due to breast cancer in her 80s, and both my maternal aunts were diagnosed in their 60s and are survivors.
In 2001, I discovered that a dear co-worker, Bonnie, was a breast cancer survivor and walked each year with friends, so I formed a Komen St. Louis Race team in her honor. It made me feel great to celebrate her survival and help raise money to give others a chance to survive. But I wanted to do more.
In 2006, I contacted the Komen St. Louis office and offered to help with the website. I became a volunteer on the Website Committee right away.
When I mentioned to people that I was volunteering for Komen St. Louis, they would open up about their own experiences. I found out that many friends, neighbors and co-workers had battled breast cancer. And then I lost some to the battle. This made me want to continue offering my skills, to help make sure the Race would go on and raise as much money as possible.
I was then personally touched by what Komen St. Louis grants can do.
One day, I received a call from my mother, who told me my sister, Karen, went to a well-woman exam where they found a lump in her breast. Karen had no insurance and did not know how she would pay for a mammogram. I immediately called the Komen St. Louis office, and within hours I had the name and number of a woman who set up an appointment for the next day for my sister to have her mammogram, fully funded by a Komen St. Louis grant. The lump turned out to be nothing to worry about. I was told if Karen had needed further treatment, her visits and care would have continued to be paid for with Komen St. Louis grant money.
I learned exactly where my donations had been going and I knew my Race team’s fundraising efforts helped pay for her mammogram! I had a great sense of satisfaction in what I was doing and a need to continue to help.
This past year, my mother called to tell me her mammogram showed an abnormality. There were ultrasounds, biopsies, and appointment after appointment. She opted for lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Her chance of survival is more than 90 percent. I am my mother’s medical advisor, since my father had passed away a few months earlier, and I have been with her every step of the way. Now it is personal. My own risk has increased. It was horrible watching someone go through this process…all for a cancer that was the size of a pea.
I have always wanted to do something for my community. Contacting Komen St. Louis was the best idea I ever had. I don’t have a wealth of money to give, but I do have time and skills with software, web design and databases. I have met wonderful, caring people in all the Komen St. Louis activities in which I have had the privilege to participate. I will continue to give all I can to Komen St. Louis as long as I am needed!
My hope is that by the time my daughter is in her 40s, and her risk increases, we’ll have a cure. I know we will find the cures!