Breast cancer helps Federal Way woman 'shed the negatives'

Kay Anthony, a Federal Way resident, is approaching her five-year anniversary of being cancer-free. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Kay Anthony, a Federal Way resident, is approaching her five-year anniversary of being cancer-free.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

The hardest part about Kay Anthony's breast cancer diagnosis was telling her children.

In 2007, she walked the Seattle 3-Day Race for the Cure with a friend who had survived breast cancer. Just days after the walk, Anthony learned she had breast cancer.

"I didn't know I was walking with cancer," said the Federal Way resident. She had felt a lump in her breast. When making an appointment with a doctor, somehow she just knew the prognosis about the lump would be bad.

A few days after the diagnosis, she and her husband, Pete, agreed to tell their sons, who were ages 11 and 14 at the time.

"That was the hardest," she said. "It shakes your foundation."

She endured chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy. The treatment ruined her tear ducts. She now has tiny pyrex tubes on both sides of her nose. Like many cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, she lost her hair. With her energy drained, simple tasks became physically exhausting.

During treatment, her support network was strong. Faith and family kept her spirits high. Several friends provided meals for the family.

Anthony credits the care she received at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way for saving her life. Her husband also instilled an inspiring thought: "Fighting cancer is not a sprint. It's a marathon."

After sitting out the 2008 Race for the Cure, Anthony returned for the 2009 walk — shortly after having a second mastectomy, this time on her right side.

In September, she will celebrate living cancer-free for five years. She got to see her oldest son, Alex, graduate from high school, with her youngest son, Adam, now a sophomore at Decatur High School.

Is she afraid the cancer will come back?

"I don't dwell on it, but it's in the back of my mind," she said, noting how cancer changed her outlook in life, leading her to look at the positive side of things. "I appreciate everything more. Once you have cancer, you shed the negatives."

Nowadays, Anthony is focused on doing her part to find a cure for breast cancer. Every year, she and a group of friends hold an informal fundraiser that nets a few thousand dollars for Komen. She participates in every Race for the Cure, and is training for a 5K run.

One other change in Kay Anthony's life since her battle with cancer: "I started wearing pink a lot more."


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