#108 Winning The Breast Cancer Battle with Karen Iverson

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I’m so excited to present you with this inspiring interview with the author and survivor Karen Iverson in honor of breast cancer awareness month.


It’s so encouraging to meet survivors who show us that we can have a full, joyful, and productive life after breast cancer.


Karen’s story is an excellent example of how you can pick up a life interrupted by cancer and a devastatingly young age and still put the pieces of life back together in a way that may even be richer than what it would have been before.

 

Resources: 
Karen’s 2nd book is releasing soon, and you can find out more about her and both of her books on her website, www.winningTheBreastCancerBattle.com 

 

Read Full Transcript below:

 

0:01 

This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity.

 

0:22 

And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share.

 

0:30 

This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.

 

0:38 

Hello, hello, you are listening to the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And if you are a returning listener, a regular listener, thank you.

 

0:49 

Thank you for coming back. Thank you for listening today.

 

0:53 

And if you're brand new, you picked a great show to begin listening to this podcast with because, for the month of October, it is my commitment to inspire and to support breast cancer survivors and get as much great information out to you as I possibly can. If you've already participated in one of my webinars, you know that there's some good stuff going out there. And if you haven't, there are two more webinars that you can join by going to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/October.

 

1:26 

These webinars are called "How to revive your life after breast cancer ." And in my talk with you about the four pillars of breast cancer recovery that I created with my own experience as a survivor and that I use as a foundation for my coaching programs with all the women that I work with, you're going to love it. So check that out thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/October. And then, of course, Revivify my ten-week coaching program is open for enrollment, and that is open until October 11. So at the time of this recording or the time this show will come out, I think there'll be three days left to enroll. Go to the website, check out Revivify. I promise you; it is life-changing. It is transformational.

 

2:15 

You will love it.

 

2:16 

And there's no better time to go through this program than right now, especially in these last 90 days of the year. Finish the year strong. It's been a tough year. And this is a great time to work on managing your mind as we move through this season of pandemics and quarantines and holidays and recovering from breast cancer. That's a lot to pile on. So it is an incredible program. I know you will love it. Check it out at the thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/Yes.

 

2:50 

All right. So let's talk about this show.

 

2:53 

One of the things that I wanted to do this month was to let you hear from some other survivors, other breast cancer survivors, because sometimes when we're going through recovery, it's just hard to wrap your head around, moving forward. It's hard to know that you're going to feel good again and be happy again and feel connected again. So I wanted to offer some inspirational interviews, and this is a great start. You're going to hear from Karen Iverson. Karen is the author. She's a coach. She's an artist, and she's an actress. She's beautiful, inspiring, incredible energy, this fantastic woman. She has a master's degree in education from Columbia University Teachers College, a bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire, where she studied microbiology and English. So she's got both the left and the right brain going on.

 

3:43 

But really, she's an artist in most senses of the word she loves to paint. She loves to draw. She's trained in photography, and she's done a lot of work as an actress and a singer, which is so cool. She's the author of two books, winning the breast cancer battle, empowering warriors, and guiding loved ones is her first book that was published in 2019—and winning the breast cancer battle companion journal, empowering and guiding warriors. So the books really reflect her experience stemming from her own diagnosis in 2012 of stage two invasive ductal carcinoma at the age of 39. And her goal is really to assist breast cancer patients and their loved ones as they navigate through this illness. And you're going to hear about why the loved ones especially are important to Karen, as we talk in this interview.

 

4:35 

So currently, she's a teacher for a virtual school, and she's finishing a master's degree. Do you think could she achieve a little more? She's finishing a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling because she wants to build on her skill set as a holistic coach. I'm super excited for you guys to meet Karen. She is just so wonderful. She is inspiring. She is thoughtful, and I think you're gonna really love This interview.

 

5:01 

So without making you wait any longer, I would like to introduce to you Karen Iverson. I am super excited to have you here today and talk about your new book and just learn more about you. How are you doing?

 

5:13 

I'm good. Thank you so much for having me, Laura.

 

5:16 

Of course. It's my pleasure. It's my pleasure. So in the introduction, I talked a little bit about you a little bit about your book. But I want to hear more from you. So let's talk about your experience with breast cancer when you were diagnosed, what was happening, and then how you how that led you to write not only this book but another book already previously published in 2019. So let's hear your story.

 

5:41 

Well, thank you, I was actually diagnosed when I was 39 years old. And I had no clue about breast cancer at all. I didn't know anybody who had gone through it. And when I was diagnosed, my gynecologist didn't even think I had breast cancer. So it was quite a big ordeal. And one of the things I found when I was going through it was I picked up a technique that I had been doing my whole life, which was journaling. And so I started journaling almost every single day, through the entire experience. And that actually ended up leading to my book, or my books.

 

6:25 

How did you think that journaling supported you? While you were going through that experience, which at such a young age at 39? Had to be so shocking, so, I mean, it's always shocking and unexpected, right? A breast cancer diagnosis, I guess, how did you discover that journaling was something that could help you through it?

 

6:45 

Well, I really didn't know anybody. So I didn't know where to turn, I didn't really want to go on the internet. Because, you know, I know that a lot of the Internet Information is not necessarily valid or true. And so I just found I needed to resort to some way to get out what I was feeling and express it. And so what I did was I took paper and pen, instead of using my computer, and I just would write, and I would just keep writing. And it allowed me to express myself. However, I was feeling because I could write words, or I could scribble with big letters, or I can write neatly and in calligraphy letters, and really just allowed me to process what I was going through. And when I didn't necessarily have somebody else to talk to about it. I was able to process it by writing it on a piece of paper.

 

7:43 

Such an excellent point you make there because your emotions came out in the way you wrote, not just with the words, but with the action of writing, right? Yes, you said instead of a computer, so instead of typing, you were able to get emotions into words, but also whether it was anger or sadness or focus came out in the way you wrote those words. Yes. Yeah. That's so cool. Yeah, that is such an important thing. Yeah, go ahead.

 

8:11 

 Yeah. And I realized after a while, I would go back to my earlier journals and read them over again, to go through what I had been through. And I started editing them. So I would go in there and I would write lines around things and scribble around things and draw arrows to other areas and write in new words. And all of a sudden, I realized I was writing a book.

 

8:35 

So is this your, your first book? Is that right? From your journals? Did you go to those journals? Oh, it you know what this is? This? Is it. This is become a book?

 

8:44 

Yes, I did. And they actually, yeah, they actually turned into the book, I did more about it, writing some more and adding in the tip sections that are in it. So after every chapter, there is a tip section for the loved ones as well as for the patients. And those I all added in afterwards and reflecting upon what I had been through and talking to other breast cancer patients and survivors about their experience as well.

 

9:17 

I love that. So one question, and then I want to touch on what you just said about the loved ones. But do you think that you would have written a book if you had not had breast cancer? Or was that really the catalyst? Is that did that bring out the book in you? Or was there always some kind of a book and you just didn't know what it was gonna be about?

 

9:36 

So I've always wanted to write a book since I was a child. For a while, I actually thought I was going to write children's books and illustrate the books. But I did go to college and studied English at my university. And one of the things I love to do there did fiction writing, which really is based upon nonfiction, but I never expected I would be writing my first book about breast cancer. So that was the new thing that came up from this.

 

10:09 

Yeah. How does that when you look back on the devastation of a breast cancer diagnosis at 39 years old, but now with hindsight, you look at what has come from that two books, which we're going to talk more about? Does that change your perception? How does it help you look at breast cancer? What are your thoughts on that, you know, people who have gone through this say, it was meant to be, or it wasn't meant to be, but you can find a reason for these things. What did it change your thoughts or your perception of having been diagnosed?

 

10:42 

Well, when I was first diagnosed, of course, , I just was horrified. And I was shocked, and, and I thought, My life's never gonna be the same. And life's gonna be horrible for the rest of my life. And I might not even have the rest of my life, you know, so.

 

11:00 

But now, there is a different point of view that I have. I actually have made some really great friends and amazing connections through having had breast cancer. And I did, yes, I written now two books. And you know, that was the first book I ever wrote, you know, it does change the way I look at it and think, yes, there was something positive that came out of it. And there was more than one thing positive that came out of it. And I also now am finishing up my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. And that was something that I always wanted to do in aspects of different aspects as from my childhood because when I was a child, I wanted to be a psychiatrist. But I never ended up going to medical school. So now, after breast cancer, I've been making that become a reality.

 

11:58 

That's so awesome. And do you find that because of that breast cancer experience, this is something we talk about often on the podcast is, you can't let your brain make up excuses anymore. Right, you turn more into your heart. And I think you express that with, you begin that practice, by journaling, you weren't looking during your experience, you weren't looking outside of yourself, for things to make you better. You were already turning inside and looking for those things to help you release the fear and the suffering and what you were going through in treatment. But then afterward, it's really tuning internally and feeling your heart like this is written on your heart, this is something I want to do. And I'm not gonna let my brain get in the way and stop me from making this happen. Right, is it, and you find that that cancer experience is kind of that catalyst. It's like, I'm not going to let anything hold me back. Because we learned firsthand that Dang, life is short. And one day, everything's great. And the next day, holy cow, this is not what I was planning on, right?

 

13:01 

It's true. And it was very interesting, too. Because when I was first going through it, everybody kept saying, well, you're going to be different, you're going to be changed. And like, No, I'm not everything's going to be the exact same except I'm not gonna have my breast anymore, you know, but I'm still going to be in the same apartment, I'm going to be living the same life, same job, same situation. But it does change you. And you know, it changes in ways you don't realize, and also not necessarily right away, like they can be things that change in your life many years later because of it.

 

13:35 

Absolutely. That is such a good point. You said in your first book that it was talking not only to those breast cancer survivors but to the loved ones. Can you tell me a little bit more about why you wanted to include that?

 

13:50 

Yes. So when I was ten years old, my father died from cancer. And it affected me very dramatically. And so I know that when we're going through breast cancer as the patient, you know, everything is catered to us. Everything is treating us; everything is compassionate to us. Everything is thinking about us. But the thing is that the loved ones and the caregivers are right there next to beside you going through this same experience, just in a different way. But they need to process what they're going through as well. Yeah, and then what happens is after treatment ends, the breast cancer patient might also still be experiencing things, but everybody thinks Oh, well, treatments over, you don't need any help anymore.

 

14:40 

Mm-hmm.

 

14:40 

So that's one of the reasons I really, you know, rely upon and think that counseling and coaching are so important is because it gives you somebody to talk to when you can't necessarily talk to your family members.

 

14:55 

Absolutely. And let's talk about that because coming to a coach going to a counselor, especially one like you, like me, who's been through breast cancer, who actually gets everything you've been through, and not only what you went through from a medical perspective, because the physical part of it, let's face it, it heals. And you know, you deal with the physical part, that's not the biggest hurdle to get over, right? It's the mental stuff. And there's the mental stuff around the physical stuff as well. But coming, as you said to a counselor, or talking with a coach, talking with someone who gets it, then gives that survivor the ability to articulate their feelings, helps them feel validated, and what they're experiencing, and helps them have the confidence to take that back to the loved one, and be able to have a constructive conversation about it. So important.

 

15:51 

Yes, yes. And, and what she said Laura to is so true, that, that, like you and I have experienced it. So when somebody comes to us and work with us, we truly understand and get it. And I did, you know, I went to a meeting with several ladies that had all been breast cancer patients, and some were still during treatment. And they said to me, they said, well, there's such a difference between talking to you, who really gets it as a breast cancer survivor, versus these other counselors that have never experienced cancer in their life.

 

16:26 

Such a good point. It's 100%, true 100%. And I think even I've had people talk to me and say, Oh, I want to help breast cancer survivors, they want to teach them I said, Okay, have you had breast cancer? And they'll say no, but I really want to help survivors. And not that anybody, could it not that? Certainly, they could, but it is different because there is something and having that personal experience to really, really understand the emotions that come out of it.

 

16:55 

Right. Yeah, I love that.

 

16:57 

So let's talk about your new book, which is awesome. And your new book then is different from the first one in that it's geared more towards the survivors specifically. Yes, tell me about it. So you've also included more; it's more than just a book. It is also a workbook, too, right? So tell us a little Yes.

 

17:16 

The second book is winning the breast cancer battle, a companion journal, empowering, and guiding breast cancer warriors. And it is a journal as well as a book. So it goes into information as far as going through breast cancer and what you will experience or may experience, and then it gives you questions, for example, to ask your doctors and space underneath to fill in the answers. And then there's always space for additional questions that you might come up with yourself. And then there is an area to just journal and free write or do notes as well as it also has mandalas in it so that when you're stuck in an office, waiting and waiting for endless hours, you can color in the mandalas or you can take it at home. And when you just cannot think or want to talk to anybody at all. And you can call her in the mandalas.

 

18:11 

I love that, you know what, that's such a wonderful meditative thing, when I talk with women about taking space for themselves and taking space to tune in, and how you need to have that quiet space to just allow your brain to come up with what's happening with you. And oftentimes, that's very difficult. It's a difficult starting point for someone who's never practiced to just sit in stillness. And then there's that expectation that Oh, I'm not supposed to think which is not meditative at all, but having that mandala sitting there and, and coloring is a beautiful meditative experience in that you're in that silence, and you're just allowing your brain to be in a creative space. And I love it. I think that's beautiful. That's a great exercise.

 

18:52 

Thank you.

 

18:52 

So I want to also acknowledge, like your first book that came out in 2019, you won a pretty spectacular award for that. Can you talk a little bit about that?

 

19:02 

Yes. So winning the breast cancer battle and powering warriors and guiding loved ones came out in September of 2019. And it won the difference maker award. So I was very excited about that, and just honored and humbled to have been, you know, given the award and granted the award, and it just kind of validated for me, the fact that this book, you know, really is going to help people in it already is helping people and, you know, it just made me really grateful that I had actually made it into a reality.

 

19:39 

Yeah, and you did and that's it's super hard work. I mean, I know you put not only a lot of hard work from time, but a heart and soul and I want to share that I've read your book, and it is such a great story. And when I talk about the work you put into it, you are really open and honest about everything. You experience what you perceive to people around you experiencing as well as you went through this, but it was also, you know, we talked a little bit earlier before the podcast, it's light hearted. You mentioned, someone had said, it's light hearted.

 

20:14 

Yes. And one of my reviews, she said it was light hearted and, and it was a light read, and so many breast cancer and cancer books you pick up and you can't even get through them because they're so dense, and they're so intense. And this actually, people also commented about that it's humorous, you know, there are parts that are funny. And that titles that the day lights, yeah, one of the titles was one lump or two.

 

20:43 

Well, I agree with that, I think that it was light hearted. So it's easy to get through, because it's like listening to the story of a friend, rather than the intensity. And, you know, obviously, you can tell a story of breast cancer from a dark side, you know, from a heavy side, from the dark side, from the very medicinal side, that type of thing. But yours was it was written really well, it is a light hearted story. But it's also a true story. And you you put all the truth in there, you talk about everything that you're going through, which I think is important, because so many women going through breast cancer treatment, recovering from breast cancer treatment, feel like they don't like their own feelings and experiences really aren't valid. I know that they shouldn't say I feel like this and dismiss it rather than dealing with it because they tell themselves, I'm supposed to be grateful. I'm not supposed to be thinking about I'm experiencing this thing. So I like that you were very, very honest and transparent, in in the most light hearted way about what you were going through so that other people can read it and and feel connected and feel like yeah, it's okay. You know what, I went through this too, and it's okay to talk about it. And it really, really is. That's Awesome.

 

21:55 

And women need to talk about it.

 

21:57 

Mm hmm. Hundred percent 

 

21:59 

we need to be able to express that and get it out.

 

22:01 

Absolutely. What is your hope? If you could say, I would like women to get this message? This is my big message I want to get into the world, what would that be from your book?

 

22:13 

So the main thing is, I really want them to feel that there's hope. And there's positivity through this. You know, breast cancer is a horrible experience that you have to go through if you're diagnosed. But there are positives that can come out from it. You know, I mean, I've become an award winning author. You know, I'm now going back and finishing my counseling degree. And I've also made some amazing friends through breast cancer, that if I didn't have breast cancer, I wouldn't have even become friends with them. So, you know, I want people to read this and, and see that they can get through it, that it's going to be difficult, but they can get through it.

 

22:54 

Yeah. And I love that I think it's so important that we have that positive message for this month. You know, that us as survivors, we come together, we support each other in remaining positive and forward thinking because there's a lot of scary messaging that happens in October. And I think, you know, for me, I didn't hear the scariness to it until I'd had breast cancer. Then when the next October rolled around, I thought, holy cow, I can't listen to this. I gotta tune this out. This is terrifying, you know. But I think that's why it's so much more important that we keep getting that positive message out there with things like what you're doing your book and tell me. So with your counseling, is that what's next for you is do you plan on working with breast cancer survivors as a counselor?

 

23:42 

Yes, so I'd like to work with breast cancer patients and survivors who have been through it recently, as well as their loved ones, because, as we talked about before, I think their loved ones need somebody who can understand and what better person than somebody who has had experience in it, to be able to reflect to them their experiences.

 

24:04 

100% That's awesome. I'm so excited for you. It's gonna be great. So where can we find your book? So your brand new book is coming out? When is it coming out? Where can we find it? How can we get it in people's hands?

 

24:18 

Yes, so winning the breast cancer battle companion journal, and also winning the breast cancer battle, the original book are both on Amazon. So you can go to Amazon and search for them, you can search for Karen Iverson. And then you can also go to my website, which is the same name, winning the breast cancer battle.com.

 

24:38 

Perfect. And I will put links to that in the show notes for this episode as well. So people don't have to just remember, don't panic. If I was running around looking for a pen and paper, the links will be in the show notes. So let's take you straight to the book into the website. And I love that you found a reason you found a reason and what you went through. And you tapped into those things that were not important to you. But something that I talk about in my coaching programs is we each have a special gift inside of us. And it's so important that we give that gift back to the world. Because whether it's writing a book, or whether it's being more connected as a partner, or a parent or something, you know, that specialness inside of us is something that changes the world. And through your experience, you found a reason to get what you're passionate about out of you. And in doing so it's having a positive impact on the world and other people who need to hear your message. So I love it. Wonderful.

 

25:36 

Thank you so much.

 

25:37 

Yeah, of course. And I wish you just tons and tons of success with your book. I can't wait. Well, I mean, I really read it, but I can't wait to hear all the successes that are ahead of you. And with your counseling and coaching too. It's gonna be awesome.

 

25:49 

Well, thank you so much, Laura. I'm excited for the future and for continuing to listen to your podcast as well. And, and it's just been great being on today. Thank you so much for having me.

 

26:00 

You're welcome.

 

26:01 

All right. I love speaking to other survivors in new I can't I met Karen, we were introduced because she attended one of my webinars, I think it was back in June, one of the June webinars. And in the webinar, she talked about the fact that she was writing this book, and I love to be able to support other survivors in achieving their dreams and achieving their goals. So I was thrilled to be able to work with her, and actually wrote the foreword for her book. And I really hope you guys reach out, check out her book on Amazon, I will post links to the book in the show notes, which is which you will be able to find at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/108 I can't believe it's 108 episodes already. But it's very exciting. So please check out her book. It really is a good read. She writes. So well. I enjoyed her stories so much. And it was just an honor to be able to have her here on the podcast. So that's what I have for you. I hope I see you in one of the two remaining webinars. I added an extra one on Sunday, because I had a couple of requests for extra time. And I thought why not? What the heck throw it out there. So there's one on Sunday, October 11 at 11am. And there's one coming up on Friday, which would be the day after this air. So to be Friday, October 9 at 11am. Also, Pacific time both of those.

 

27:24 

So come and join me thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/october. I would love love love to see you there. And I would love to see you in Revivify. So definitely check out what that program is all about. Email me if you have any questions, and you can reach me through the website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com All right, have a wonderful week. I will talk to you again next week. And until then, be good to yourself.

 

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