Faces of Survival: Karen McMichael

A freak accident led to Karen McMichael’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2016.

 

“There was a pan on the stove that was touching a boiling stock pot,” said McMichael, who burned her finger on the pot while cooking.

When the burn became infected, the Sandersville, Ga., resident was airlifted to Augusta’s Doctors Hospital. The infection had spread into her arm, and she required eight surgeries in 28 days, spending most of the month of February in the hospital. She also developed necrotizing fasciitis and required skin grafts.

While at Doctors Hospital, doctors ran multiple tests, including an ultrasound, to see how far into her arm the infection had spread. Doctors noticed some enlarged lymph nodes. Additional tests detected a lump that was later diagnosed as cancer.

Doctors couldn’t deal with the Stage 2 cancer until she healed from the infection and multiple surgeries.

McMichael, who is a nursing home administrator, went back to work on March 11, 2016, and continued to work through her treatments. She had intense chemotherapy in April and May of 2016, but her job kept her focused, she said.

“My work family was supportive; my family was supportive. If I looked like I was tired, they’d take me home,” she said.

She did curtail some of her work duties. Because of the risk of infection, she was confined to her office during some of her treatments. She had a lumpectomy in August 2016 and then more chemotherapy and radiation. Her treatments ended in February 2017.

McMichael said she had always stayed on top of her annual mammograms, but some changes in doctors caused her to go past the one-year mark. She said this made her more aware of the need to get checked as near the 12-month point as possible. Her daughter is 35, and she encouraged her daughter to start getting her mammograms now.

 

McMichael said her journey has made her appreciate life more.

“Every day is not a given,” she said.

And it’s made her closer to her family.

Not only has it affected her family, but her cancer fight has touched others as well. McMichael said it’s surprising the response she gets from people who watched her progress.

Recently someone came to her and said “I want to tell you what an inspiration you’ve been to me,” McMichael said.

Upcoming events

Cedar Creek Sew n Sews Lydia Work Day: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, Cedar Creek Community Center, 2584 Club Drive, Aiken; cut fabric, sew and trim totes given to The Lydia Project clients; contact Mary, (803) 502-1380 or rrommich@gforcecable.com

Lydia Night at Firehouse Subs: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, Firehouse Subs in Augusta and North Augusta; 10 percent of all food sales will be donated to keep services free for women fighting cancer

St. Michael’s Sewing Group: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25; 263 St. George Drive, Waynesboro; sew Lydia totes in support of the women and girls The Lydia Project serves; bring your sewing machine; Alice, (706) 554-3306

Lydia Sew Day: 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, Lutheran Church by the Lake Fellowship Hall, 100 Twelve Oaks Drive and Hwy. 378, McCormick, S.C.; sew Lydia totes in support of clients coping with cancer; bring your sewing machine; Peggy Harla atrhoopz@wctel.net

3rd Annual Wacky Wig Walk: 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Columbia County Amphitheater; benefits the Georgia Cancer Center-ImageBoutique Fund; $20 registration at giving.augusta.edu/wackywigwalk; groups of 10 or more, contact Susan Doughtie at (706) 721-1364 or SDoughtie@augusta.edu

Lydia Work Day: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 28, Advent Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 3232 Washington Road; cut material for toteslater sewn and later given to women and girls coping with cancer; Renee (803) 386-3617 or rblanchette4@gmail.com

Lydia Work Day: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 853 N. Liberty St., Waynesboro; cut fabric and sew Lydia totes in support of women coping with cancer; lunch will be served; email Nina Campbell at springer_usa@yahoo.com

Lydia Collection Drive: Saturday, Oct. 28, KJ’s Market, 5155 Wrightsboro Road, Grovetown; shop and drop to support The Lydia Project with supply needs for those fighting cancer

3rd Annual Fashion Show Fundraiser: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Trinity on the Hill UMC-Wesley Hall, 1330 Monte Sano Ave., benefiting The Lydia Project, holiday fashions by custom clothier, fashion designer and alteration specialist Alethia Hudson, fashions from Cato Fashions and David’s Bridal, music by A Major Sound, emcee by local comedienne Poncere Daniels and catering by Southern Girl Cooks; shop for holiday gifts from vendors; $20; email Alethia Hudson at sewmuchtalent@yahoo.com or (706) 414-1958

Talbot’s Lydia Day: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 491 A Highland Ave.; 10 percent of sales benefits The Lydia Project

Fall Back for Tommy Charity Tournament: 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, Jones Creek Golf Club; sponsored by Anytime Fitness in support of The Lydia Project; $300 foursome; Rachel, (706) 910-1220

Prayer Group: 9:30 a.m. Thursdays, The Lydia Project, 1369 Interstate Pkwy., pray for women and girls referred during the week; complete the volunteer application at thelydiaproject.org

 

 

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