When faced with the awful diagnosis of breast cancer, one survivor found a reason for living

When faced with the awful diagnosis of breast cancer, one survivor found a reason for living

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Kim Barber had decided to get in shape.

She was a 41 year-old wife and mother living in Point Place.

"I thought I had the world by the tail. I was getting in the best shape of my life," Kim remembers. She even began working at the fitness center where she worked out.

After working out one day, she noticed her right arm was swollen. Her breast began to turn "beet red" and the skin took on the texture of an orange.

Her family doctor ordered up a biopsy and later called her with the results.

"You never expect when you get a call from the doctor them saying 'you have cancer'," says Kim today. She was at home, all alone, when the call came. She thought "This is it. I'm only 41 years-old and I'm going to die from this."

That dark day was April 13, 2006. Yet that same night, a light came that changed, even saved, Kim's life.

Her only son Jeff stopped by with a promise everything would be fine.

"He goes 'You know why I'm so confident about this?' I'm crying, I go 'No Jeff, why?' he says 'Well because in like, maybe seven months, you're going to have a grandchild,'" Kim remembers.

The unexpected announcement gave Kim a new reason to fight the disease she just learned she had.

When Kim's granddaughter arrived, she was named Madison. "Madison is my reason for me sitting here. She's my reason for fighting the way I did. I wanted to give up so many times," Kim said.

But Kim never gave up.

Chemotherapy dramatically shrank the tumor. A lumpectomy replaced mastectomy as the prescribed course of action.

The tumor was removed and there was no evidence the cancer had spread elsewhere.

Even while undergoing treatment back in 2006, Kim participated in her first "Race for the Cure." Friends and family joined her cause and her team "Kim's Kru" would swell to 200 people over the years.

Kim also enlisted Toledo firefighters to donate to the fight against breast cancer. At Toledo fire station 18, she made an offer.

"We said if your guys can raise $100 and donate it to Kim's Kru, we'll cook you guys dinner," said Kim

The firefighters took her up on the deal and over the years several stations got involved, competing with each other, even between shifts. Kim laughs now at what the challenge became. "I took on the whole battalion. That's six stations. I'm like 'I gotta be crazy' but I did it."

Now an 11-year breast cancer survivor, Kim is being honored at this year's Race for the Cure.

The Toledo race on September 24 will be run "In Celebration Of" Kim. She says she's "beyond thrilled" and "can't believe this happened to me."

But it did thanks, in part, to the nomination made by Madison's parents, Kim's son Jeff and his wife Beth.

The honor also recognizes Kim's fund-raising work in support of Susan G. Komen. And it especially recognizes Kim's amazing spirit and the inspiration she provides to others battling breast cancer.

Her good friend Kelly Dorn with whom Kim works out two days a week may put it best.

"She's still living every day and showing you can do whatever you want. It doesn't matter. It's a decision. You just have to make the decision."

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