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Katie's Breast Cancer Story

Katie Osthoff children
Breast cancer patient Katie Osthoff says her experience with the disease made her a better mother to her three children.

Oct. 1, 2010 – A self-proclaimed type-A personality, Katie Osthoff wore all the hats required by a wife, mother of three and nurse anesthetist. In August 2008, she had a normal mammogram. One year later, she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Her first thought was of her 3-year-old daughter.

“I had a one in seven chance of getting cancer, and it happened to me," she says. "I wondered if I was going to live to see my baby grow up.”

Osthoff admits she didn’t handle it well at first.

“I couldn’t believe it. I mean, one day I was picking out new granite for my kitchen, and the next I was wondering if my cancer had metastasized. I was in shock," she says. "I went into my room and cried for three days.”

But it didn’t take long for Osthoff to revert back to the person she’d always been – the one who puts her family first.

“It’s not like you can just pull the covers over your head and stay in bed," she says. "Children can’t cook their own breakfast. You have to get up and go on with life. My kids are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. They need me. They are my salvation.”

At that point, Osthoff decided to fight cancer with everything she had. She sought out Timothy Eberlein, MD, a breast cancer surgeon and director of Siteman Cancer Center. “The two hours I spent with Dr. Eberlein were the most important of my life. I felt like I was his only patient. I walked out of his office knowing I would survive.”

After Eberlein performed a double mastectomy, Osthoff received 16 rounds of chemotherapy and five weeks of daily radiation. Now, only one year after her diagnosis, she is cancer-free.

“I’m a better mom, a better wife, and I get so much more out of every day," Osthoff says of her experience with cancer. "You have an incredible sense of peace when you re-think what you believe is important and stop sweating the small things. I truly believe if this is the only day I’m guaranteed, I’m not going to throw it away worrying about dirty socks. That’s how I live now. Siteman saved me.”