Defying odds: Erica Kimbrough shares story of overcoming breast cancer
When Erica Kimbrough went for her yearly mammogram this spring, she was already on high alert for any changes or lumps in her breasts. This is because Kimbrough discovered last year that she carries the BRCA gene and since that time has been closely monitored by her doctors.
The test revealed a tumor that was 3 centimeters in size and a diagnosis of breast cancer – the same month she celebrated her 32nd birthday.
“I knew because of the BRCA gene that I had an 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer at some point,” she said. “Honestly at first, I was in shock because I am so young. We didn’t think this was a concern until later years because of my family history.
“Of course, your first thought is fear and the what ifs,” she added. “But my support system and God were behind me the whole way.”
She said her sons, Brantley and Bennett, are the reason she fought so hard for her life.
“They kept me going through this whole process,” she said.
With a history of breast cancer on both sides of her family, she said she drew inspiration from her birth mother’s recent battle with the disease as well as her paternal grandmother’s memory. Both members of her family developed the disease in their 50s.
Her treatment plan was rigorous and demanding, comprising four rounds of A/C, also known as the “Red Devil,” followed by 12 rounds of Taxol. Looking forward, because of the BRCA gene, Kimbrough will undergo a double mastectomy and a full hysterectomy.
Kimbrough was classified as cancer-free Aug. 1. While she continues her Taxol treatments to ensure complete eradication, she said the joy of this victory was long awaited.
“We all cried happy tears,” she said. “I will continue out the Taxol treatments just to make sure it is all gone but we are praising God for that news,” she said.
Kimbrough added she had a solid support system while she battled the disease.
“My mother has been my absolute rock,” said. “She has been to every treatment, helped me with my kids, and supported me through this whole process. My best friends have been cheering me on from the start and haven’t left my side. Even people I went to high school with, my coworkers and boss and strangers have been behind me.”
The future is one of recovery and hope for Kimbrough, who has recently returned to work while welcoming the feeling of normalcy again.
Kimbrough said early detection can be life changing.
“It is important to prioritize screenings for the BRCA gene, especially for those with a history of breast or ovarian cancer in the family,” she said.