Kimberly Babin thought she was visiting her doctor for a stubborn stye
that had not receded on its own after almost two weeks. But her appointment
marked the start of a life-changing journey. Prescription antibiotics
did not improve the condition. Kim’s doctor told her that he suspected
she had an abscess and a blocked tear duct, and recommended her for surgery.
Kim made an appointment with eye surgeon Dr. Blake Booth of Williamson
Eye Center in Denham Springs who referred her to Dr. Henry Barham, an
ear, nose, and throat specialist at Baton Rouge General. The two doctors
decided to tackle Kim’s abscess by operating together—one
would operate the mass by going through Kim’s tear duct and the
other would enter through her sinuses. They expected to remove the abscess
and clear Kim’s sinuses at the same time. The procedure took place
on May 9, 2019.
But on May 22, Kim received news that changed everything.
Dr. Barham informed Kim that his team had biopsied the abscess and learned
it was actually a cancerous tumor. The Baton Rouge General team then sent
the specimen to Cleveland Clinic for further review by their Tumor Board,
who revealed they had never before seen a tumor in the same location as
The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. Not only was Kim’s
brother scheduled to undergo a triple bypass surgery the day after her
diagnosis, her father had recently passed away, and the pain of that loss
was still very fresh. Kim was devastated. She never thought cancer would
happen to her. But she knew: “I had too much to live for. I had
to fight, fight, fight.”
Kim’s doctors performed a second surgery at Baton Rouge General on
July 18. Dr. Barham and Dr. Booth were able to fully remove the tumor.
The next step in Kim’s treatment plan was thirty rounds of radiation
at the Pennington Cancer Center. Dr. William Russell thoroughly explained
radiation treatment procedures and possible side effects, but Kim was
still afraid when she arrived for her first appointment.
Patients at Pennington Cancer Center can choose to have music played in
their rooms while receiving radiation treatment, and they can create a
Pandora radio station to play their favorite artists and songs. After
Kim made her station and her treatment began, she heard her father’s
favorite song playing on the radio. Her confidence was renewed and she
felt her father watching over her that day.
Every time she came to the Pennington Cancer Center, Kim found reasons
to persist in her treatment and hold her head high. Supportive family
members offered to bring Kim to and from appointments. Cardinal feathers
outside the center reminded her of her father’s presence and love.
The determination of fellow patients inspired Kim to keep going even when
she felt tired, even when she felt ill. Pennington staff eventually came
to know her as the Super Trooper.
Through it all, Kim remembers that: “The doctors made me feel like
the only patient. The day Dr. Barham told me I had cancer, the first thing
he said was how sorry he was for the loss of my father. No one ever beat
around the bush. Every doctor and technician explained everything they
were going to do. They were always honest with me.”
At Kim’s last radiation treatment in September, she finally heard
the words “You are 100% cancer-free.”
Kim’s experience inspired her to live life to the fullest, and today
she enjoys spending time with family, camping, and savoring her boyfriend’s
cooking. Her advice to anyone considering seeing a doctor is: “Just
pay attention. You know your body. You know when something’s not
right. Always get it checked out.” And for those who have just received
a cancer diagnosis: “The first step to beating cancer is to trust
in your doctor, have a positive attitude, and go to Baton Rouge General!”