Kathy Himes - Crucial Catch

“Just schedule it” - Highline Medical Center nurse on the importance of regular cancer screenings

Kathy Himes of West Seattle knows the importance of regular health screenings. A nurse at Highline Medical Center in Burien, she talks to her patients about preventative care and reminds them to keep up with annual vaccinations, examinations, and scans. So when she discovered a breast lump in August 2014, she quickly scheduled a mammogram.

Kathy soon learned she had triple-negative breast cancer, a type of cancer that is often more aggressive and challenging than other types of cancer, since it resists certain types of therapies. Shocked but determined, Kathy began treatment almost immediately: Several months of chemotherapy followed by surgeries to remove the cancer and reconstruct her breast.

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Her Virginia Mason Franciscan Health care team included surgeon Dr. Ani Fleisig, MD, and oncologist L. Katherine Martin, MD. Working with female doctors close to home, Kathy felt informed and empowered throughout her cancer treatment, she said. “My team was crazy good, and I miss them now. As a nurse, I knew there were doctors I could have worked with in other health systems, but I was very happy to stay here in this community.”

“Cancer is something you never think will happen to you, and when it does, it happens not just to you but to your entire family,” she said. “You can’t let your guard down — even missing one mammogram can mean an entirely different outcome. Just schedule it. Around your birthday each year is a great time.”

Today, Kathy’s regular mammogram screenings show no signs of cancer and she’s back to enjoying her passions — quilting, spending time with her two grown children and cheering on the Seahawks. “I’m waiting until my five-year mark to really consider myself a ‘survivor,’ but I feel very lucky.”