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Cancer Hub Survival Story 

 Survivor Story by Katherine Knoploh

Every cancer patient has a moment in time that

they remember hearing “The Words,” and just

as significant is what came before that moment.

It was February 2015 when I went for an annual 

check-up and my doctor found a lump in one of

my breasts. I was sent for a diagnostic 

mammogram and an ultrasound. The radiologist

had a look on his face as he told me that not 

only was there a concern with the lump in the breast, but also an area of concern in the lymph 

nodes under the arm. As a mother who had given birth to premature twins, I was familiar with 

the look on the doctor's face, which was one of knowing, and not wanting to say anything until 

tests confirm. My next step was a biopsy, which was five days later. In the meantime, I talked 

with other local women I knew who had breast cancer to get their doctor recommendations, and 

I searched doctors within my insurance network. I felt like this gave me a little control in a 

situation that felt completely out of my control. At the biopsy, the doctor answered my difficult 

questions and told me the breast tissue did not look like normal breast tissue. The very next day 

was the call, when the nurse said, “I think you know, you have breast cancer.” That was on 

March 5, 2015, and I would later learn that I had stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. 


The immediate fear and panic welled up inside me as I thought about my children, whom both 

have special needs and may never live independently. But, there was no time for emotion. I 

jumped into function mode as I cleared my schedule for more testing, doctor appointments, and 

surgery that took place exactly 3 weeks after my diagnosis. 


Ultimately I had a double mastectomy, five months of chemotherapy, and six weeks of radiation, 

finishing up active treatment in November that year. I chose to have delayed reconstruction and 

that process did not begin until June of 2016. As I began reconstruction I found I was moving 

forward physically, but not emotionally. I felt stuck in that fear of recurrence, especially in those 

quiet moments. I participated in community message boards for breast cancer patients and one 

night I read something by another woman that resonated with me. She said, “I don’t want to look 

back decades from now and realize I had lived that entire time in fear.” That one sentence, 

written by a stranger, began my emotional healing. Shortly after I became close friends with a 

woman from that same message board, who was stage 4 when we met. It was hard sometimes 

loving someone whom you know is going to leave you soon, but sometimes what’s hard is also 

valuable. I was blessed to be a part of the last year of her life. 


At the same time, for my own healing, I decided to study with the Institute for Integrative 

Nutrition where I learned the holistic approach to health. I had always thought health was about 

food and exercise, but I learned there are other aspects that contribute to our health. After 

completing my program in the summer of 2018, I started my coaching business, Inspired Vitality, 

to provide support to others impacted by cancer. I partner with people to provide practical tips, 



resources, and emotional comfort with my individual coaching, and I’ve had the opportunity to 

do public speaking. I was planning more speaking events when the pandemic hit, so in my 

desire to help others, I started my YouTube channel, Inspired Vitality, and have been honored to 

be a guest on some podcasts this year. 


When I finished chemo in 2015 I wanted to put as much distance as I could between myself and 

the cancer community. I didn’t want to wear pink or go on walks. I thought healing meant 

getting away from all things cancer. What I didn’t know then that I know now: 


●Cancer doesn’t end when active treatment ends. There are follow-up appointments and 

ongoing medications that lead to side effects. For some, there’s no escaping cancer 


●I treasure the people I meet in the cancer community! These people speak my language, 

no matter where we are geographically. Connecting with others and sharing ourselves is 

one of the best realizations from my experience. 

●Making a difference comes in many forms. It might be having a conversation with a 

woman days before her mastectomy, or sharing my story publicly and allowing the 

listener to apply bits to themselves. 


Lastly, I have learned that cancer does not define me, and I have allowed it to shape me. 


I’m happy to share that at recent oncology check up my blood work results were perfectly 

normal and it was decided that soon I will be eliminating one of my medications. 

Katherine Knoploh 

woman with short hair and blue dress
woman with pink jacket
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