Tuesday was a big day for Celebrating Women. While it would have been the day before the big annual fundraising luncheon for Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation’s fight against breast cancer if it hadn’t been for COVID, it turned out to serve as a reminder of how Celebrating Women’s efforts have been life-changing.
The occasion centered around a lady you might not know, but you’d like her. She is Krystal Smallwood-Whitaker, a 32-year-old wife and mother of two boys. As if raising kids and holding a job during the pandemic wasn’t enough of a challenge, this past July she added another big factor to her life when she discovered a swelling under her right arm. Initially, she passed it off thinking, “It’s gonna be a cyst because I’m 32!”
But the doctors wanted her to have it checked out just in case. What was her reaction? “I immediately jumped in the car and called my mom. I was crying and I was telling her that they wanted me to get a mammogram.”
That “cyst” turned out to be breast cancer.
Like anyone hit in the face with such news, Krystal admitted “My mind was all over the place. I really didn’t know what to do or what to think at that point.”
As Celebrating Women Chair in Breast Cancer Research at Baylor University Medical Center’s Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy reported that Krystal’s team at Baylor Scott and White created an ideal plan for Krystal’s type of cancer — pre-operative therapy including chemotherapy and targeted therapy before the surgery.
Joyce added that Krystal’s cancer is one with an excellent prognosis. “It’s overwhelmingly likely that she’ll live the rest of her life cancer-free, thank goodness, standing on the shoulders of the women who went before her.
Krystal admitted that meeting Joyce the first time was a memory-maker. “This little lady walks in and she’s so hyper and I was devastated.“ With a laugh, Krystal described Joyce as a “powerhouse.”
That power infused Krystal to take control and charge ahead. For example: Krystal did a video of her friends and family cutting her hair and her husband Rodrick Whitaker shaving her head. The reason: She wanted to let other women know they’re not alone. Sure, there were tears, but there were also hugs and kisses. That group effort along with her medical team provided the support that was vital to her journey.
Yes, yesterday was a big one for Celebrating Women and Krystal. She was receiving her second to last round of chemo and got to see this final video in the Celebrating Women’s October series.
* Video provided by Baylor Scott And White Dallas Foundation