For Krista Pickett of Gander, Friday the 13th is about much more than superstitions. It’s a reminder of the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Twenty-seven years old at the time and the mother of two young boys, Pickett said Friday, March 13, 2009 is the day she started fighting for her life.
“There was simply no way I was leaving my boys to grow up without a mother. That was not an option. I knew I would do whatever I had to do.
“They kept me going and if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you,” Pickett said during a recent telephone interview.
Pickett’s ordeal started when she discovered two lumps in her breast. She had a mastectomy at the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander. After undergoing genetic testing, Pickett learned she carried a gene that increased her likelihood of developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
She had her second breast removed at the Gander hospital and her ovaries removed at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.
Since her cancer diagnosis, Pickett has undergone three months of chemotherapy at the Gander hospital and six weeks of radiation at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Centre in St. John’s.
“I lost all my hair but I didn’t cry a tear. I didn’t care. I knew that’s what I had to do to get better.”
Pickett said the health professionals who have helped her during her cancer battle have been “amazing.”
While she’s had her bad days, she said, she’s stayed positive and has always focused her energy on getting better.
“I knew some people had it a lot worse. And I always thought this could be worse. It could have been one of the kids. And I’d sooner it be me than seeing any of my family go through it.”
Pickett is back at her job as a secretary with Central Health.
She still tires easily, she said, but that won’t stop her from coming to St. John’s March 31 to participate in the Health Care Foundation and the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation fundraiser dubbed “Bust a Move for Breast Health.”
Pickett is the patient ambassador for the fundraiser.
It’s exciting, she said, that Hollywood celebrity and fitness guru Richard Simmons had come onboard with the project and will be in St. John’s to lead some of the fitness classes at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre on Crosbie Road.
“He’s going to beat me out,” Pickett laughed.
The six fitness sessions taking place during the day will provide a variety of routines from low-impact aerobics to yoga.
Each routine will be designed for participants of all fitness levels — from beginner to fitness buff.
Bust a Move chairwoman Nora Duke said the fundraiser has created a buzz around the city and the province since the event was launched in late January.
People are contacting the organizers, she said, for workplace presentations. People are also interested in volunteering, she said.
“We have nearly 100 participants registered with 18 teams. ... Participants are coming up with creative fundraising ideas and seeking support of colleagues, friends and family,” Duke said.
Pickett said getting involved in the fundraiser is her way of giving back to the health care system that’s been such a big part of her life over the past three years.
“When you write your story, can you please just say how grateful I am to everyone and especially the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Centre.”
Pickett also has a word of advice for others. Never take life for granted, she said.
“Don’t look behind or have regrets. Always live in the moment and look to the future,” she said.