Survivor says disease does not discriminate based on age

Lauren Wood | Daily Journal Kristina Weir is a breast cancer survivor and was diagnosed with the cancer when she was 30 years old.

Lauren Wood | Daily Journal
Kristina Weir is a breast cancer survivor and was diagnosed with the cancer when she was 30 years old.

By Riley Manning

Daily Journal

In 2000, Kristina Weir had the world by its tail. While she worked as a certified public accountant for a successful firm in Birmingham, her husband, James Weir, was putting the finishing touches on his law degree.

Healthy and fit at 30 years old, Weir figured a nagging pain in her left breast should have been nothing, let alone breast cancer.

“I was aware of my family history – my father’s mother and sister had breast cancer – but I thought it was one of those things that only happens to older people,” she said. “And when I spoke with my OB/GYN, he said, ‘I think it’s fine. Cancer rarely hurts,’ which is true.”

Weir’s pain worsened over the next four weeks. She called her doctor to arrange a mammogram screening, even though insurance at the time didn’t cover mammograms for women under 40. It was three weeks before she had the procedure, and had the results sent to her OB/GYN.

“The nurses weren’t at liberty to tell me the results of the tests, but I asked her if it was normal, and she said it wasn’t,” Weir said. “When I saw my scan. I didn’t even have to ask. It was everywhere.”

Weir’s scan revealed tiny cancer cells all throughout her left breast. She underwent two more tests, one whose results were immediate, the other delaying a few days. The former showed no cancer, but the test results that came the next day confirmed she had it.

“So I went from having no cancer on Monday, the mammogram showing cancer on Tuesday, not having cancer on Wednesday, and finally diagnosed on Thursday,” she said. “Plus, we were set to close on a house in Tupelo that weekend. When it rains, it pours.”

Specifically, Weir was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, which means the abnormal cells were contained to her milk ducts. She said 90 percent of breast cancer starts there before breaking out and forming a mass. Hers had become infected because of the cancer, which resulted in her initial discomfort.

Luckily, the cancer had yet to make it into her lymph system, and Weir elected to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. Having both breasts removed all but ensured the cancer wouldn’t return, and she wouldn’t need to undergo chemotherapy.

“I wanted the peace of mind, to know I had done everything I could do,” she said. “I believe with all my heart cancer either wrecks a person or makes them stronger, and it all has to do with the glasses you’re looking at the world through. My experience strengthened my faith and my marriage. We had only been married a year and a half, but he was a rock star through the whole thing.”

Blessings, Weir said, usually come wrapped in funny-looking packages. Her blessing is her ability to share her story, knowledge, and proof of life after treatment. She and her husband now have two sons, Jake, 10 , and Charlie, 8.

Today, Weir volunteers her accounting skills at the Women First Resource Center in Tupelo, and works with Swiss health company Arbonne, which develops organic nutrition options. The way we eat, she said, is definitely a factor in the country’s battle against cancer.

riley.manning@journalinc.com