Katie McKnight was 29 the first time she had an abnormal breast MRI. She had undergone regular breast and ovarian cancer screenings every 6 months since age 24 due to testing positive for a germline BRCA1 mutation. When the core-needle biopsy sample came back negative for cancer, Katie felt so much relief. A few weeks later, a painful lump formed where the biopsy had taken place. Her doctor told her it was likely a hematoma and not to worry. Eight months later, Katie was diagnosed with stage 2b, grade 3 triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma, at age 30. The biopsy clip placed eight months prior was at the center of her tumor.
After her diagnosis in September 2020, Katie underwent embryo cryopreservation, 5 months of chemotherapy (Taxol/Carboplatin followed by AC), a double mastectomy with under-the-muscle reconstruction, 6 months of oral chemotherapy (Xeloda), and an exchange surgery to swap her expanders for implants. Katie hopes to add another round of embryo cryopreservation to her treatment CV if her ovaries are still functional in the near future.
Two days after Katie’s diagnosis, her sister Mary gave her the most meaningful gift a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient could receive: the gift of the Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS). Within a few hours of joining BAYS, Katie connected with three women who were her age, had her same genetic mutation and tumor type, and were close or equal to her staging. She met BAYS members who were 3 months, 6 months, 10 years ahead of her in her treatment plan. The anxiety that gnawed at her gut turned into reassurance—that she was not alone, that this was not her fault, and that she could survive this.
Katie serves on the Events committee of BAYS and is committed to continuing BAYS’ mission of spreading compassion, support, and information to young breast cancer survivors throughout the Bay Area. She lives in Richmond with her partner Nate, beloved pup Bernie, and cuddly-by-day-murderer-by-night cat Fleck. Katie works as an environmental scientist/planner at a local nonprofit and gets her energy from all things pottery, hiking, permaculture, dance parties, crosswords, traveling, costumes, and pitbulls.