NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, according to the CDC, is the most common cancer among women. It affects women of all ages.
Newport Beach-based fitness trainer Kandace McMenomy has always been active, and has run in dozens of marathons.
At 30, she had just finished the Napa run, and qualified for Boston when she felt a lump.
It was stage two.
"I never thought I was going to die,” McMenomy said. “I’m happy-go-lucky, put my head down and get it done, and that’s what I did.”
She did all her chemotherapy treatments, which took her hair. Because she was so young, her fertility was threatened. So she decided to freeze her eggs while being treated.
“I don’t have children now, but if and when I do, I have 12 eggs and I will have to have a surrogate, but I’m really happy that I decided to do that just cause, who knows what’ll happen, but I have that option,” she said.
She fought it, and went five years without it returning. Then a doctor felt something somewhere else.
“I had to do another scan and I had cancer everywhere. Tumors everywhere. And just within six months,” McMenomy said.
The tumors are now gone, but she still has to take a chemotherapy pill to keep the cancer away, and will be taking them indefinitely. It can be exhausting, which is hard for a professional trainer. Some days she has to change her training schedule. Others she has to be her own motivator.
“Other days it's just self talk and I tell myself, 'get up and go, something is better than nothing, let’s just see what happens today,'” McMenomy said.
But she finds strength in helping other survivors. She works with other women who’ve been through it, and together they create a sisterhood.
“I had a girlfriend who was six months ahead of me and she was my angel, and then I had a client who was three years behind me and I was her angel,” she said.
“So we all have a different journey but we all stick together and support one another.”
McMenomy is now a two-time breast cancer survivor and will share her story as a patient ambassador for City of Hope’s Walk for Hope on November 3.
The event will raise funds and awareness to prevent and one day cure women’s cancers.