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"If I Can Help One Person, Everything Will Have Been Worth It."

  • Category: Patient Stories
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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General

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 Kim’s.

kim portraitThe 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!”