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Katy Lyon and her family walk through the snow.

Katy's Story: Cancer Services for the Whole Person

One of the harder parts about having cancer is the stigma. People look at you like you did something to get cancer, rather than it being something that just happened. But you can be the healthiest person on the outside and then, all of a sudden, have a diagnosis or a rediagnosis.

I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. I was shocked. I was healthy. Being active outside is a big part of my family’s life. We ski, mountain bike, hike, and love everything Tahoe has to offer.

The diagnosis completely changed my life. Suddenly my time was filled with doctor appointments and waiting. Waiting for the next test, waiting for the next scan, and waiting for surgery dates. I was lucky the first time around because they caught the cancer early. I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy or radiation, and I could still kind of live my life.

Within two years, I was back on the mountain—biking the trails and skiing the slopes. Then, in 2014, they found cancer in my other breast.

This time, I needed to put together an A-Team. I wanted the best doctors and support to help me get through this diagnosis because I wanted to be there for my husband, my son, and my daughter.

Once again, my schedule filled with doctors’ appointments. I went to UC Davis Medical Center for genetic testing and advice. They helped me put together a surgical and treatment team. I then received oncology services from Laurence J. Heifetz, MD, at the Tahoe Forest Cancer Center and infusion therapy from Barton Health.

It's a long process, and it helps to have a supportive community. I felt so fortunate to have my family, my friends, and God by my side to believe in me and lift my spirits.

One thing I found particularly beneficial on my journey was cancer wellness services. Services like acupuncture, biofeedback, nutrition classes, and massage helped me continue to recover and live a life beyond cancer. These services helped treat me as a whole person and get me back to doing the things I loved. This helped me mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Cancer makes it hard to lead the lifestyle I led before, but the cancer wellness services really added to my life and made my long days feel easier. I was motivated to keep going. I went to my kids’ dance and ski competitions and helped my husband in the office. I felt like I was going to be OK and my family and I would get through this.

Katy Lyon lives in South Lake Tahoe. Stories like Katy’s have inspired Barton Health to offer our Cancer Support Services, devoted to helping participants reach an improved state of wellness through guided exercise, nutrition, counseling, and other supportive services.