Kimberly Revell’s Journey To Beating Breast Cancer

Tallahassee Police Department Chief Lawrence Revell was sworn into his position in early 2020; during that time, his wife, Kimberly Revell, was fighting a battle with breast cancer.

Kimberly Revell’s journey

Kimberly Revell had had previous scares five years before her breast cancer diagnosis. In 2019, she says she was sick for a couple of months, struggling to get better.

One Wednesday in June of that year, she was teaching at vacation bible school when she felt a pain under her arm.

“I thought it was the underwire of my undergarment. And so I just took my thumb and moved it, put it underneath the underwire and moved it, and my hand slid across the lump,” Revell said.

Revell said she had always heard that cancer didn’t hurt like that pain she experienced. That weekend, she and her children visited her parents.

When she described the lump, the “size of a green pea,” her mother, a retired nurse, urged her to get checked.

After an ultrasound, a mammogram, a biopsy, and a long wait over the Independence Day holiday, Revell received her results.

She was diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma. Hoping to avoid radiation, Revell chose to have a double mastectomy.

“After the surgery, the pathology came back, that it was worse than they originally suspected, that it was Stage 2, Grade 3, and that it was in my lymph node. So that changed everything,” she said.

The new diagnosis meant chemotherapy and radiation; she had chemotherapy from September of 2019 through January of 2020, and surgery in late February. She began radiation in April, and she finished in June of 2020.

While undergoing treatment, Revell also held on tight her faith and got support from her spouse.

Chief Lawrence Revell said when a loved one is dealing with cancer, family and spouses should be prepared to help with whatever they might need, sometimes offering support in unexpected ways.

“Whether that’s driving them to appointments, being with them at appointments, holding their hair, maybe even as it’s falling out,” Chief Revell said.

The two also found hope in their five children, including twelve year-old triplets. The couple said they waited to tell their younger children until they were sure of the diagnosis, but then tried to involve them when possible.

“When my hair started falling out, I let them cut it in a mowhawk,” Revell said, chuckling with her husband.

1 in 8 women

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women are affected by breast cancer. TMH Dr. Jeannine Silberman was one of the doctors treating Revell.

Dr. Silberman says treatment has come a long way.

“Therapeutically, we have a lot of different advances in metastatic breast cancer,” Silberman explained.

Silberman says the majority of the breast cancer patients she sees are older, with slower growing cancers. She says younger, pre-menopausal patients tend to have more aggressive cancers.

She says the outlook depends on the stage, the receptor status, the grade, and genetics.

Dr. Silberman and TMH radiation oncologist, Dr. Ovidiu Marina, both urge people to take charge of their health.

“A good way to do that is pick a day of the month, the first or last day, and do a self exam on that date,” Dr. Marina said.

“Please go get your mammograms,” said Dr. Silberman. “It’s safe to go, precautions are being taken, you don’t want to ignore that.”

Marina also says patients who receive a cancer diagnosis should be prepared for different kinds of treatment.

“One of the things that helps patients go through their cancer journey is to try to understand all of the treatments that may be involved in their care up front,” he said.

Silberman is not only a medical oncologist, but also a therapist. She says a cancer diagnosis can bring up feelings of depression and anxiety.

For loved ones helping a family member or friend through the journey, she recommends being an empathetic listener, and asking what that person needs.

TMH also has breast cancer patient navigators; Silberman says she often also recommends support groups or therapists.

Revell’s advice for others

Almost a year and a half after her initial diagnosis, Kimberly Revell is now cancer free. She emphasizes that she still does self exams and has regular visits with her doctors, and she also takes an estrogen reducing chemotherapy pill every day.

She advises others on their journey to pray and learn from people around them about their choices.

Revell emphasizes that a fight with cancer is personal.

“Everyone’s feelings about their body are different. Everyone’s response to certain treatments or surgeries or whatever is different,” she said.

Every year during the month of October, the community comes together to turn the town pink.

Revell says it makes a difference.

“When I got my diagnosis, my whole world turned pink. Every gift, every card, was pink,” she said.

“Whether they’re survivors, or not, to come alongside and participate and care and rally around those who are struggling with it, is just beautiful.”

Experts recommend not only doing self exams and attending regular doctors visits, but also researching and knowing your family history.

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