A Tri-State woman has died following her battle with metastatic breast cancer. Jennifer King’s husband Shawn King talks about her legacy.
Eyewitness News’ Shelley Kirk talks to Shawn King and Sheila Seiler about Jennifer’s battle with metastatic breast cancer and the legacy she left behind.
Jennifer King: “Metastatic patients have a tendency to feel like we are the black cloud. No one wants to see us, because that means progress hasn’t been made. But progress has been made.”
Shelley Kirk: Those are the words of Jennifer King. In her plea to put more money, awareness and research toward Metastatic Breast Cancer the disease that took her life just a few days ago. Joining me now is Jennifer’s husband, Shawn King. And Sheila Seiler, Executive Director of Komen Evansville Tri-State. Thank you both for being here first off. I’m so sorry for your loss. Jennifer was a huge voice in the fight against breast cancer, specifically Metastatic Breast Cancer. And we were talking earlier, and you said she didn’t lose her fight – explain that.
Shawn King: No, I think Jennifer’s graduated and has more tools at her disposal to continue helping people. She didn’t lose the fight; she just became more powerful is what really happened. She has more weapons in her arsenal now. She helped spread the word about metastatic breast cancer and then to help those who are dealing with it currently, living with this demon inside them. And so, Jennifer did everything she possibly could in our community. And where she is now, she’s touching people coast to coast right now. It was in her plan, it’s the bigger picture.
Shelley Kirk: The fight continues.
Shawn King: The fight continues. It absolutely continues. She didn’t lose the fight. This is on her terms. She’s just going to the next level.
Shelley Kirk: Absolutely. Sheila, what is Metastatic Breast Cancer? How’s it different from a diagnosis of breast cancer?
Sheila Seiler: Actually, they’re two separate diseases. There’s breast cancer and there’s Metastatic Breast Cancer. And with Metastatic, it has metastasized inside the body, meaning it has gone somewhere other than the breast. Typically, the lungs or the liver or the brain or possibly the bones. It could go anywhere in your body. But once it has been in another organ other than the breast or the lymph nodes, then it is classified as Metastatic Breast Cancer. And the protocols and the treatment become very different.
Shelley Kirk: And there is no cure.
Shawn King: There’s currently no cure for it.
Sheila Seiler: There is not.
Shelley Kirk: And you just treat it?
Sheila Seiler: You treat it, you live with it sometimes. I’ve known some women who have lived with it for as short as three months. I do know a few women who have lived with it for as long as 20 years.
Shelley Kirk: And Jennifer lived 15.
Shawn King: Jennifer lived 15 years from when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer, we were diagnosed with in 2014.
Shelley Kirk: What’s it like living with metastatic breast cancer?
Shawn King: I have no idea. My wife and I would talk about it, but the reality is that until you have that demon inside you, you have no idea what that’s like. To know there’s a ticking clock and there’s not a solution to help you, there’s not a cure that you have to continue living like this fighting through, hopeful that you can fight for your life every day. Like 3 months or 20 years – you’re not sure how long you have left. So, it can happen fast. In Jennifer’s case, it happened fast towards the end.
Shelley Kirk: She described it as a black cloud. Sheila, what do we need to do better for people who have metastatic breast cancer?
Sheila Seiler: Well, changes are occurring very slowly. Komen Nationwide, our research grants, the majority of our research grants are funding metastatic breast cancer projects all across the world. So, the change has started, but it’s going to take time. We all know that research doesn’t happen overnight and typically from the point of inception to the point a drug hits the market could be as long as 20 years. So, we’ve started, but we have a long way to go.
Shelley Kirk: And Shawn I know you have plans, big plans for patients who have metastatic breast cancer. What do you want to do?
Shawn King: So, Jennifer being as caring and as giving as she was the entire time, to honor that and continue that legacy, we’re going to have the #WARRIORJENNIFER King’s Retreat. We want to raise as much money as possible to effectively change women who are living with this metastatic breast cancer. As far as changing their quality of life, giving them an opportunity to enjoy a retreat. Jennifer and I were blessed in we were able to take lots of family vacations and travel all over the place. Looking back, there’s a lot of women who don’t have that opportunity. So, I know Jennifer would love if she’s given the opportunity to give that little treat to them and also give them an opportunity to share their stories together. Like you asked me what’s it like to live with metastatic breast cancer. Well, Jennifer would spend time speaking with those who had it because that was comfortable for her. The retreat, the idea is to get these 10 or 15 women in our community and take them to a resort of some sort and pamper them and treat them like the queens that they are. And then allow them to have time alone to talk to each other without the world influence. Shut everything down – talk about this demon inside you and what’s going on.
Shelley Kirk: And this just came about recently. You’ve already raised some money and you’re looking to raise…
Shawn King: This happened yesterday.
Shelley Kirk: And you’ve raised…?
Shawn King: We’ve raised almost $15,000 since last night.
Shelley Kirk: Alright. And we’re going to try to put a link up. The best way is through your Facebook, correct?
Shawn King: Yes.
Shelley Kirk: So, we’re going to try to put a link and this interview up on our website: Tristatehomepage.com. I know this weekend you’re having a huge Celebration of Life in honor of Jennifer, but we’re going to be covering that so best of luck to you in that. And our hearts are with you every step of the way. Thank you both so much for being here today.
Shawn King is raising money to send some women on a retreat to help them cope with their battles with metastatic breast cancer. If you’d like to donate, you can go to the Facebook page to do so.
(This story was originally published on August 15, 2019)