Our Woman Crush Wednesday, Inger Bakaric!

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Our “Woman Crush Wednesday” today is Inger Bakaric!  Inger is a one year breast cancer survivor, serves on the Komen Ozark Race for the Cure Steering Committee and is our New Balance Honorary Team Survivor!

Honorary Team New Balance was formed in 1995 to celebrate stories of survival and to honor athletes who have made a difference in the fight against breast cancer. For each Race for the Cure, the Affiliate has the opportunity to choose a local survivor to be a part of Honorary Team New Balance. These members are honored for their personal perseverance against breast cancer and dedication to raising breast cancer awareness.

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Whatever It Takes-Inger’s Story

In July 2012 I went in for my regularly scheduled mammogram. I was a healthy, active 44 year old with no family history of breast cancer. I pointed out a small bump that I had recently found, within 48 hours they confirmed that it was stage 2 breast cancer. It was very close to the skin surface so I underwent 6 rounds of chemo to shrink it away from the skin, followed by a bilateral mastectomy in January and finally reconstruction in May 2013.

One of my doctors asked me at our first meeting what I was willing to do to get rid of the cancer, after a long scary pause I said whatever it takes. Later I thought about all the things I wanted to do in my life, on the top of my list was complete a sprint triathlon. I decided that as soon as I was able to I would do it, whatever it takes. I had run a 5k but I never thought I would be able to do anything more than that. I stayed as active as I could during chemo and was able to complete a 5k right before my 5th treatment. By the end of February I was able to go to biking class and I started working on getting my strength and endurance up. By April I was training with a beginner triathlon group. It was very hard work, I cried many times upset that my body was not able to work as hard as I wanted it to. In March I was able to do a bike race, in April I was 2nd survivor in Race for the Cure 5k with my best time ever. In May my first open water swim, and in August I had reached my goal and completed 2 sprint triathlons. I realized that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. I have since run many more 5k races, my first 10k and my first half marathon placing first in the masters division. I am currently training to compete in another half marathon and a duathlon in March.

I decided early on in my treatment that I would not give up, that I would stay positive and I would never quit, and that I would finish what I started whatever it takes. This statement got me through the chemo and the tough days ahead and I still say it to myself anytime I have a hard day. I am so very thankful to my husband Michael who was such a wonderful support for me. He was with me at every doctor appointment; he trained with me and ran by my side during every race cheering me on. I was blessed to have the help of my wonderful friend Jill who among other things sat with me through my first chemo, my daughters Lorelei and Mariana who kept me smiling and helped out whenever I needed anything, my Mom and so many other friends and family that took care of me and kept my spirits up.

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Meet Our Woman Crush Wednesday, Kari Nikolish!

Our “Woman Crush Wednesday” today goes to a young breast cancer survivor and Board President for the Ozark Affiliate, Kari Nikolish.  When Kari was 35 years old, she found a lump in her left breast.  Three days after finding the lump, she was able to seek immediate medical attention.

I didn’t have to make the decision between a mammogram and food for my children.

After further testing, Kari was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer at the age of 35.

I met many people during my two years of treatment with much different circumstances and outcomes.  I’ve met even more through my volunteer efforts with Komen the last 5 years.  My blessings since my diagnosis are beyond measure and I’m committed to continue the fight that others have not been able to finish and pay it forward as so many did before me.

Kari is a tireless advocate for Komen Ozark and for quality access to health care for ALL.  She can often be seen presenting to a group about the importance of early detection, discussing why donating to the Komen Ozark affiliate is so important, passing out educational materials at a community event, mentoring a new survivor and much more!

Thank you, Kari and for everything you do you are our “Woman Crush Wednesday!”Image