Finding hope

Jimmy Tomlin, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
·3 min read

Mar. 24—HIGH POINT — Kimberly Worthy still remembers just how awful she felt when she was going through the early rounds of chemotherapy.

She remembers nearly drowning in a sea of fatigue. She remembers the neuropathy that ravaged her hands and fingers, sometimes causing them to ache, other times leaving them tingling or even numb. She remembers the fear that nearly paralyzed her.

"I could look in the mirror and literally see the sickness in my body," the 57-year-old High Point woman recalls of her journey with breast cancer. "It was almost as if I was looking at death. I had to keep telling myself, with tears running down my cheeks, 'You're not gonna die. You're not gonna die.' Those two months were so hard for me, because I felt like I was staring death in the face."

Now, though, Worthy's no longer looking at death — she's looking at life.

"She just has this wonderful soul and spirit," says Kim Lookabill, Worthy's breast cancer navigator at High Point Medical Center's Hayworth Cancer Center.

"The chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer is one of the hardest things a patient can go through. They get a pretty big dose of two medicines, and it's a tough thing to go through, so she's gotten over one of the worst parts. And through it all, she's been very upbeat and thankful for everything."

As the cancer center nears its annual Pink Ribbon Luncheon, Worthy represents what the popular fundraiser has come to symbolize — hope.

Worthy's cancer journey actually began in early 2020, when she detected a lump in her right breast. She didn't have medical insurance at the time, though, and then the COVID-19 pandemic came along, and her quest to schedule an appointment kept being delayed, she says.

"I kept putting it off and putting it off," she says, "until I couldn't put it off any longer."

Finally, Worthy got an appointment in November, and things began happening quickly: An imaging session. A biopsy.

And then, around Dec. 1 or 2, a phone call.

"I heard the woman say she was sorry, and I knew then she was gonna say it was cancer," Worthy recalls. "I just said, 'OK,' and I laid there in that bed for a minute. It was like, how could this be happening to me? To be honest, I'm still dazed. Breast cancer is something I never dreamed would happen to me."

Chemotherapy began almost immediately, with Worthy receiving treatment every two weeks for four cycles in December and January. Now she goes once a week for a more tolerable regimen.

Once she's done with chemo, Worthy will require surgery — either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, depending on how her cancer responded to the chemo.

"They'll try to preserve the breast if they can," explained Lookabill, the breast cancer navigator. "If they do a lumpectomy, she'll need radiation treatments after that. If they do a mastectomy, she might need radiation, but that hasn't been determined yet."

Despite the bumpy road Worthy has traveled, she says she's been blessed by the level of care she's received at Hayworth Cancer Center, from her primary oncologist, Dr. Bernard Chinnasami, to all of the nurses who have cared for her.

"It's overwhelming the love I feel from them every time I go," Worthy says. "I never in my life knew people could be so kind and loving and concerned. It's like they're my family."

jtomlin@hpenews.com — 336-888-3579

jtomlin@hpenews.com — 336-888-3579