Dori Knott was determined not to let breast cancer slow her down. With timely help from her medical team, she returned with confidence to her family and her life.
Of course she felt moments of shock and worry. But Dori Knott’s instinct was simply to get up and get fighting — not just for herself, but for her husband and daughter.
“Once you find out you have breast cancer, you just want to move. You want to be proactive. You want to get it over with,” she said.
The stay-at-home mom and lifelong resident of West Covina, Calif., received a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer in August 2010. She set out right away to look for expert help, and she found it at City of Hope.
The staff quickly got her into surgery.
“It went really fast. Everything just fell into place,” said Knott.
She scheduled her operation — Knott opted for a double mastectomy — for two weeks after her diagnosis. After surgical oncologist Laura L. Kruper, M.D., removed her tumor and breast tissue, plastic surgeon Sharon Clancy, M.D., performed reconstruction.
“They did both procedures while I was on the table,” Knott said. “My plastic surgeon said I had in one surgery what usually takes women two to three surgeries.
“They did a great job. The scars are minimal. From a woman’s standpoint, that was huge, not having to walk around with scars.”
Through the whirlwind of chemotherapy and more reconstruction, Knott held on to her family for support. Her parents, siblings and best friend kept watch as she recuperated. Her husband, Lee, and teenage daughter, Hailey, also stood by her throughout her journey.
Her family’s own experiences helped her keep perspective as she battled back from breast cancer.
In 2009, doctors found a tumor in Hailey’s brain. Its location would have made it tricky to attack with surgery, but the mass has subsided by itself since then.
“Watching your loved ones go through it, I think, is harder. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if Hailey had to go through treatment,” Knott said.
And her husband, a Los Angeles County firefighter, has lived with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for almost 20 years. She’d helped him through his chemotherapy, so she knew what to expect.
“I see Lee going strong, and I know how far they’ve come with breast cancer research. So when I was diagnosed, it wasn’t a death sentence,” said Knott. “It was just, ‘OK, now it’s my turn.’”
Today, she describes her bout with cancer as “relatively easy.” Nonetheless, she is relieved to return to the life she knew. Now she’s looking forward to a future with Lee, seeing Hailey off to college and possibly applying her kinesiology degree to re-enter the workforce.
Thanks to her team of physicians and nurses, she’s gotten back to life as usual — and quickly.
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