Karen Keehn says it’s easy to get jaded with continuous cancer-fundraisers, but she benefitted from a new treatment for breast cancer. (Leah Blain photo)

Shuswap woman grateful for innovative breast cancer treatment

Friends and Neighbours by Leah Blain

By Leah Blain

Friends and Neighbours

“It all helps,” says Karen Keehn as she puts a book on the table. “It’s very enlightening and to the point. It’s not negative; it tells what can happen.”

The book, The Intelligent Patient Guide to Breast Cancer, is written by a team of Canadian doctors.

Four years ago, when Karen went for a mammogram a cancerous cyst was found. Her first reaction was a mixture of shock and confirmation.

“It was like a 2 by 4 hit me on the top of the head and, by the same token, I knew something wasn’t right. Your body knows when there’s something wrong; you feel it.”

The cancer was small but very aggressive. She found out on a Thursday and, by the following Tuesday, Karen was in surgery. Everything went well and, as it turned out, her particular cancer qualified for an internal radiation treatment, brachytherapy. While the treatment has been used for prostate cancer for several years, it is fairly new to breast cancer treatment. So new in fact, an American medical news team asked if they could film the procedure of implanting the radiated seeds in the breast.

Read more: B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Read more: Fighting breast cancer

Read more: Mobile Mammograms coming to Salmon Arm

“It’s an awesome treatment. Not everyone can have it, I just happened to be lucky. I didn’t have to travel back and forth for treatment. The seeds are still there but they stopped radiating after six weeks.”

Karen has a big binder with all the paperwork concerning her cancer. She has another binder about another part of her life, the beginning.

“My name was Lynda Marion Corneille. I was called Lynn for many years but they changed my name to Karen Mary Lynne. I adopted out when I was about four years old. Back then the war was going on and I think it was a question of affordability; maybe they couldn’t feed me, I’m not sure. I have two sisters and a brother; they kept them and gave me away, I was the baby.”

She was the only child in her new family. They were strict but loving.

“I had music lessons, bikes, everything. I had good food, good care.”

Read more: Okanagan doctor warns against tanning as skin cancer rates rise

Read more: Update: Cancer society explains why Shuswap Relay for Life cancelled

They lived in Calgary for the next five years and then moved to Vancouver and eventually settled in Salmon Arm when Karen was 15.

“It was a culture shock coming from Vancouver to Salmon Arm,” she says laughing. The big thing social outing for teenagers was to drive around town, and pooling their change to fill the gas tank.”

Karen married Dwayne Keehn and they had two children, Vicky and Darcy. Dwayne worked at the mill and the family spent a lot of time outdoors, fishing, hiking and camping. Karen had various retail jobs including owning her own store, Fairies and Foxgloves, for a while. Everything changed dramatically when Dwayne had a heart attack at a young age. He passed away more than 20 years ago.

Karen is now a great-grandmother but she is still a familiar face downtown as she has been working at Shuswap Clothing for 12 years.

“Gerald (Forman) is the ideal employer,” says Karen, referring especially to his support during her cancer treatment. “He never fussed once when I was going for checkups and back and forth. He made it stress-free.”

As Karen has reconnected with her brother and sisters, she found they had a lot in common, even cancer.

“My brother and one of my sisters has had cancer. My brother has been cancer free for many years. I’m in remission and that’s the next best thing.”

Life has certainly been a series of twists and turns says Karen but she has learned an important lessen: “Know when to drop things and let them go and know when to pick them up. Have a positive attitude. It will get you down but get back up again. Life can still be beautiful.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

As I learn about George Ryga and his contributions, it is clear why this festival carries his name

Art and music at Summerland Ornamental Gardens

Second event of the summer will be held Sunday, Aug. 25

New Penticton/Kelowna transit route ready to roll out

Route 70 Penticton/Kelowna will provide a direct trip to Kelowna from Penticton and Summerland

South Okanagan powwow strikes a chord on the human level for federal minister

Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan was the special guest at powwow

Summerland’s downtown has gone through numerous changes

Main Street has been commercial hub of community for many years

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Penticton man sentenced in non-fatal 2017 shooting

Elkena Michael Knauff sentenced to seven and a half months in jail

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Kamloops RCMP locate and arrest man who fled from police

The 22-year-old male was wanted in relation to a domestic violence investigation

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

Okanagan RCMP superintendent helps with arrest

Vernon Supt. Shawna Baher arrests man for theft; turns out to be suspect in assault and robbery

Kelowna man arrested after allegedly setting blaze near Fire Department

The man was allegedly seen lighting bushes on fire near the Kelowna Fire Department

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Most Read