As a surgical nurse for 17 years at Kaiser Permanente, Frances Kaneshiro takes care of her body.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I try to exercise. You do everything you can to take care of yourself because working in surgery we see everything. So you don’t want that to happen to you,” says Kaneshiro.
But in May, she got the call.
“I was out for my daughter’s birthday dinner when I got that call that said you got cancer,” says Kaneshiro.
Her first reaction.
“First you jump into the fear. Fear of what’s going to happen to me now. What am I going to be? Will I be able to work? It was just a lot of fear and I think at that point, that’s when I really had to turn to my spiritual side,” says Kaneshiro.
With her husband, family and friends by her side, Kaneshiro was able to persevere through chemotherapy and continued to work.
“Kaiser really allowed me to have that freedom to do what I needed to do and take care of myself. I was still able to come to work each day and feel as normal as I could through this whole process,” says Kaneshiro.
That process included some physical changes.
“I think that’s one of the hardest things for us as females. We associate our physicalness in what makes us a woman. From losing your hair to losing your eyebrows to losing your breast, that doesn’t make you who you are. That doesn’t define you,” says Kaneshiro.
In the U.S., 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Kaneshiro urges everyone to get their annual mammogram.
“For me, it was the difference of finding something on a microscopic level versus finding something with a big lump with further staging. My treatment would have been much different had I not had that mammogram early,” says Kaneshiro.
Another piece of advice.
“Don’t try to do it alone. Let others help you and learn from others. There are so many women that want to help you and I’m learning that for me now. I feel like I can help someone else through this. There are so many of us as women, we’re so wanting to take care of everybody else that sometimes we put ourselves on the back burner. But learn how to take care of yourselves and let others take care of you,” says Kaneshiro.