My Breast Cancer Story - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

My Breast Cancer Story

For the past several years, Fat Quarter Shop has hosted a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I love that we can rally to support women who have been affected by this awful disease and help bring awareness to catching cancer before it’s too late. 

As a project manager and social media team member, I’m always part of the planning for this campaign, but this year’s post is personal because I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m Kate Shaw, and I want to share my story with you.

Earlier this year, I went for my annual mammogram. While it’s not my favorite thing to do, I know it’s important.

The mammogram was followed by an ultrasound, which my doctor ordered for me because I’m one of nearly 50% of women over the age of 40 who have dense breast tissue.

My mammogram came back clear, but the ultrasound showed some “concerning spots”. It was hard news to hear. After more tests, the doctor took a biopsy, and I waited for the results.

About a week later, I got a phone call. It was cancer. The woman on the phone advised me to find a breast surgeon right away, and by the end of the week I was in a doctor’s office learning about my treatment options.

The diagnosis came as a big surprise since I am relatively young, healthy, and I don’t have any close relatives with breast cancer. What I didn’t know then was that having dense breast tissue puts a person at a much higher risk for cancer and makes it unlikely that cancer will show up on a mammogram. They say it’s like “searching for a snowball in a snowstorm,” as a way to explain how cancer can be hard to find. I thank my lucky stars that my doctor ordered an ultrasound, or I might still not know….

Early Detection is Key

Thanks to early detection and the life-saving ultrasound, my prognosis is very good! I have a solid treatment plan from my team of oncology doctors, and I’m on my way to better health. I’ve had surgery to remove the tumor, and my next steps are radiation, medication, and surveillance. 

Take Action for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Learn about your health and take charge because nobody else can do it for you. It’s recommended to start mammogram screenings at age 40, and talk to your doctor before then to find out if you have other risk factors.

If you have recently been diagnosed, please reach out for support. In my experience, nobody gets you like a support group of fellow breast cancer patients and survivors.

Supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Please join Fat Quarter Shop in raising funds for the NBCF, whose mission is to provide this help and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer. Now, through Tuesday, October 31, 2023, we encourage you to donate. Together, we can reach our goal of $10,000 to help women at every step of the breast cancer journey. Fat Quarter Shop will match up to $5,000 of the donations raised.

click to visit our fundraising page for the NBCF

I hope by sharing my experience that I can help others be proactive in detecting cancer when it’s easiest to treat. If you find this post enlightening, please share it with a friend so we can help spread the word!

Learn more: 

A new FDA regulation announced this year increases the reporting and oversight on dense breast screening for mammography providers. Katie Couric explores this new life-saving development with Dr. Hillary Marston in this video.

Stay connected to Fat Quarter Shop!


  1. I am a two times BC survivor and I so get where you are at now. My first diagnosis occurred at age 42, my second (in my other breast) at age 49. No BC in our family history. Then my sister got diagnosed at age 49 as well and guess what … we are both BRCA2 positive.
    Please everyone, take this seriously before it takes your life away.

    1. So glad you went for a mammogram. Early detection is key. I had breast cancer 2 years ago. I am so grateful for the healthcare staff at Radiology Associates in Tallahassee for finding my cancer so early. So mammograms may not be the most fun to do but they are life saving.

  2. Kate, me too. Diagnosed last ( Triple Negative Breast Cancer)November and finished all treatments this past August. Good news for me, cancer free at this point. Now 3 month visits with oncologist for the next five years.

    Wishing you a easy process in defeating this beast in your body!!

    1. Thank you for the well wishes! I look forward to finishing my treatments and having this behind me (as much as it can be).

  3. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year – at the age of 75. Like you, had lumpectomies, followed by radiation, and now on a hormone blocker. I’ve been so thankful for modern medicine, something my mother didn’t have back in the 70s when she also had breast cancer – and lost her battle with it. My daughter, who is in her early 40s, is now in a high-risk group due to my history and my mom’s and will be vigilant about testing every year. I encourage all women to have regular mammograms – it can be a life saver!

    1. Jacque, I’m glad to hear you’re cancer-free. I’m so sorry to hear how it’s affected your family and my heart goes out to you. I’m with you on the modern medicine – I’m very grateful for the options available, and the amazing doctors and nurses.

  4. Breast cancer 2011, rare lung cancer,2013, same again 2021. This cancer wouldn’t have been caught early if it hadn’t been for the ct scans for the radiation treatment for the breast cancer. I count myself a very lucky Sewvivor! My mammogram is next week. Sharyn

  5. I was diagnosed May 17th of this year. June 1st, had surgery to remove the 1/4” non aggressive tumor. I had 5 radiation treatments during the first 2 weeks in August, and now am cancer free. I am also taking hormone therapy to decrease the chance of it returning. I am 68, and will never miss an annual mammogram appointment! Early detection followed by a positive attitude and a great medical team are key!!

  6. Prayers for you Kate and thank you for sharing your story. It seems breast cancer is being diagnosed more and more. My niece who is 35 was just diagnosed. I so wish the powers that be would lower or do away completely with the age that women are tested.
    Stand strong and fight like a girl!!!
    Will continue praying for you.

  7. Prayers & love to you, dear Kate. Sharing your story with the FQS community can help many women who fear mammograms find the courage to take that next step. My grandmother had breast cancer in the ’80s & my mom was diagnosed 2 months after my father passed away suddenly. We do not share any of the known genetic markers for breast cancer, but with my family history, and dense breasts, I stay on top of mammograms too.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. Being proactive is so important! I hope that every woman who’s reading this will make an appointment to get a mammogram or talk to their doctor about when is the right time to get screened.

  8. Kate, as you know, you are very near and dear to my heart, and I am glad you shared your story, and I’m super glad you are doing well! I also have very dense breast tissue and I pay out of pocket each year to have a breast ultrasound done with a company caller Her-Scan, they travel all over each state to provide easy & affordable ways to get ultrasounds done. I like that I can take control of my own breast healthcare and make sure I don’t rely on doctors alone, just in case someone is having a bad day on mammogram day and lets me slip through the cracks.

    1. Thank you, Gina! 🙂 I’m so thankful for you and for all the support and encouragement I’ve received since my diagnosis.

      I did not know about Her-Scan before, but that looks like an amazing service and I’m glad you shared that as it will help others!

  9. I had a lumpectomy three years ago. It was caught early. Had immediate surgery. No radiation needed. So far, so good. I never miss my annual mammogram. Prayers to you Kate for a successful recovery.

  10. So glad you have a treatment plan for your road to recovery. I was diagnosed 7 years ago after a Mammo and Ultrasound (I too have dense breasts). I had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and one full year of HER2 infusions but came out cancer free. Today I had my 6 month checkup with my oncologist in Houston and all is good. I certainly will be joining the Fat Quarter Shop donation cause. Thanks for all you do to support this.

  11. My 37 year old daughter was just diagnosed with Aggressive Ductal Carcinoma, grade 3, which is the most aggressive. Needs a double mastectomy, but first more testing, can’t have her surgery for a month. I’ll be sewing the Adore quilt for her to use. She had stage three colon cancer at just 27 years old, with three surgeries and six months of chemo for that. Just so very sad.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story Kate, such an important message for everyone. I learned a lot and will be talking to my Dr.
    Big Hugs my friend !!

  13. I’m in a ladies group in my town. Along with the Roll Call question we have to answer each month, we also have to state whether we did our breast self exam and if we had a mammogram. That keeps us accountable to each other. Over the years, we have had several members have breast cancer. It’s good we can support each other.

  14. Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us. I, too, have walked that walk you’re now on. In 2016 my regular mammogram was questionable, so a second “diagnostic” screening was ordered. That day the radiologist showed me his film and pointed out to some spots saying “these things we don’t worry about, but this little guy isn’t friendly looking.” It was a 2mm tadpole shaped spot. Two days later I had a biopsy which came back as cancer. Following a lumpectomy I chose to have only radiation. I carefully followed up with 6 month diagnostic mammograms and check-ups with my radiation doctor and with my surgeon. After 5 years the radiation doctor released me. But the surgeon tells me she’ll never turn me loose. I see her annually now, and continue to have my annual mammograms as I’ve done for the last 40 years. Many times during the 34 years before diagnosis I wondered if those annual exams were necessary. I often wanted to skip them. But had I skipped just this one……..where would I be today? I’m now a very vocal breast cancer awareness advocate. Keep up the faith and follow the advice of regular checkups and you will also be an advocate.

    1. Kate, thank you for sharing your diagnosis story and the link to Katie Couric’s video. I was so surprised to learn that 85% of women who are diagnosed don’t have a family history of breast cancer. Also, I was told that I have dense breast tissue but not told that I’m at higher risk of cancer. I hope and pray your treatment is successful! Thank you for caring enough to help others.

      1. Oh yes, isn’t that surprising about the family history? I too, was shocked to discover that. I appreciate Katie Couric and Joan Lunden for their work on this front to ensure women get the info and care they need. There’s still a gap!

  15. Kate, I’m so sorry you are going through this but thanks for sharing your very important message. I was diagnosed at age 36, about 6 weeks after giving birth to my third child. We caught it early and did 6 months of very intensive chemo. Well, that baby just turned 21! My best advice for you is to let people help! Get the rest you need to heal. I’m so glad you are on a solid treatment plan and thankful you caught it early!

  16. Kate, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I understand the fear and shock of a breast cancer diagnosis. Last Thursday, I had my nine year appointment with my oncologist. I am healthy and doing well. I have my annual mammogram on my remaining breast in a few weeks. I have a diagnostic mammogram on my breast due to surgical scarring from breast reduction surgery done to match my reconstructed left breast. I am a nine year survivor of HER2+, Hormone Receptor negative breast cancer. I had a mastectomy, reconstruction, 12 rounds of four drug chemotherapy, followed by a year of Herceptin. I am proud to shop and support Fat Quarter Shop and the compassion of Kimberly and your staff in helping spread the word of the importance of annual mammograms and self care. Bless you, all.

  17. I was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2023. I feel extremely fortunate that my lump was detected very, very early and was less than a centimeter in size. Nevertheless, I opted for a double mastectomy. I was totally floored that after the surgery, I had no pain! The oncologist had my genetics evaluated and determined that my cancer was estrogen driven (go figure 22 yrs after a total hysterectomy, I still had too much estrogen?!?!). No chemo or radiation needed. Just an anti-estrogen pill daily for at least 5 yrs. I am so fortunate and highly thankful for the advancements that have been made.

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