The Cancer Center’s Story Project is an effort to capture stories from our community of patients, friends, family, clinicians, and staff who have been affected by cancer in some way. This is Kimberly's Story.

  • Since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Kim focuses her time and attention on spending time with those whom she loves and not worrying about the little things in life.
  • "You appreciate people; you appreciate how you want to spend your time: spending it with your family, your friends, your kids."

What have you learned about yourself since being diagnosed?

"Gosh, a million things, that’s a big question...."

What has been your greatest struggle since your diagnosis?

"I was diagnosed three years ago, and going from being a very healthy person: I taught spin class every day, I was running summer camp, I taught swimming, I played tennis, and then all of a sudden I couldn’t do those things. Just being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and having major surgery, I was up in Phillips for like a month, and so going from being a healthy person to being someone with cancer not knowing how long you’re going to live... that’s a struggle. Just being open to help, not necessarily reaching out and asking for help, but I had so much help from friends and family who just came forward. You know, I had no idea just how much help I’d need. And I remember the first time I met with Dr. Krasner, my oncologist, she had said, and she’s great, she said she had broken both of her legs at the same time, and she told me not to be afraid to ask for help, you’re going to need it. Then on the flip side, I’ve had it twice, in 2013 and 2015. When you feel good, it’s amazing how much you appreciate feeling well. So that’s huge, truly, you appreciate it."

How has this changed your outlook on life?

"You appreciate people; you appreciate how you want to spend your time: spending it with your family, your friends, your kids."

What has become more important and less important?

"I have to sort of bite my tongue sometimes when people complain about something trivial, because you know, I sort of know in the back of my mind what’s important and what’s not. Even my youngest is in college, and she has stresses and little issues and I try and alleviate some of her stresses, but I know that her health and feeling well and living her life is what’s most important."

Is there any advice you would like to give to others who are reading this?

"Well, we’re all at different stages. I know when I was going through my treatment initially, one of the nurses said to me 'I have someone who’s been through this, and who you can talk to so that you know that you’ll get there' and I remember at the time saying: 'No.' It’s nice to know that she’s there and it’s nice to know she’s healthy, and it’s nice to know that I can get there, and that’s enough. My advice is just to know that if you’re in remission, it’s just fabulous and, you know, enjoy it."

Is there anything else you’d to share?

"What I’ve learned, and maybe you’ve learned this also, is that all cancers are so different, and you know, people talk about getting a 'cure for cancer' and make huge progress with breast cancer and colon cancer, and skin cancer. But all cancers are so different, so I have a cancer that doesn’t really have a cure. So, yeah, you live with it. You can live with it. I’m on a clinical trial, and its keeping me in remission, but it will come back, and at that point I’ll do another round of chemo and then another clinical trial. What’s so interesting is, it will hit someone in a family and they’ll call and ask me 'my mother’s 90 and she has breast cancer, what now?' And that’s just different. Each cancer is so different."

"Each person’s cancer is different, and each person is so different. There’s different doctors, I see a gynecological oncologist, there are different drugs, different clinical trials, different everything."

"I praise, praise, praise my doctors here, all the nurses in Phillips and Yawkey. I have a huge respect for nurses and all that they do. I can’t say enough about everyone here, who works with patients with cancer, whether you get acupuncture, or Reiki, or a massage, they just treat the whole person. I’ve had a few procedures and even going into the other parts of the hospital like in Lunder, the nurses there are so sweet, the facilities and the expertise is just so great. It is amazing, I feel like I’m this far because of MGH. If I had been somewhere else I don’t know if I would have gotten past 2013."

You appreciate people; you appreciate how you want to spend your time: spending it with your family, your friends, your kids.

Kimberly Zukerberg

This interview was conducted on December 14, 2016 and has been edited for clarity.