My name is Kate Benjamin. You may know me from the world of cats (hence the title of this website), as the owner of Hauspanther and co-author with Jackson Galaxy of New York Times bestsellers Catification and Catify to Satisfy. Or maybe you have no idea who I am and you just stumbled across this site or a friend sent you a link. In any case, welcome!
I have been facing serious health challenges in the form of breast cancer for the past several years and the experience has led me to create this website, which is serving as a repository for my findings on natural health as well as a place to record my own journey. Here are the details of how I got to where I am.
Breast Cancer – Part 1
In 2013, at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor was found during a routine mammogram. It was IDC grade 1, ER/PR+, HER2- with a 1.4 cm tumor on the right side only. In other words, very straightforward, standard breast cancer. I jumped on the cancer train and went along with the recommended course of treatment — a lumpectomy followed by radiation. I did not need to have chemo, but since the cancer was estrogen receptor positive I was told that I should take Tamoxifen, which I declined.
A friend who had also dealt with breast cancer told me about the naturopathic oncologist that she worked with through her treatment. I had always leaned toward natural medicine instead of allopathic, even though I had never faced a major health crisis like cancer before, so it was an easy decision to go see the naturopath as part of my cancer treatment. The work I did with the naturopath combined with my own search for optimum health lead to major lifestyle changes and introduced me to all kinds of new information about natural healing.
My Cancer Vacation
I refer to the time from when I was diagnosed to the end of my treatment as my “cancer vacation” because I almost entirely checked out from regular life and did nothing but care for myself. I went out almost every night with close friends to see live local music that was healing to my soul. I nurtured myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, really for the first time in my life. I lost 15 lbs. with a juice fast detox and I ate only fresh, whole foods that were completely vegan.
I also took on a different view of life. I learned to appreciate every moment instead of always being stressed out and worried about something. Along with that came something else new — self-love. I believe that because I was caring for myself and learning to love myself, I opened up my heart and allowed for new possibilities. And that’s when I met and fell in love with Mark, who is now my husband. (He’s also a member of one of the local bands I started fangirling over during my cancer vacation!)
I recovered from surgery and radiation quickly and easily, due to the work I had been doing with my naturopath and the lifestyle changes I had made, however, about a year after my treatment ended I developed lymphedema in my right hand and forearm. It was a bit of a battle to get my doctors to admit that I had it, but I eventually did receive treatment. I was able to get it under control, but it is an ongoing issue and I live in fear of it getting worse.
Breast Cancer – Part 2
About two years after my treatment ended I started having issues in the area of the incision from the lumpectomy. The scar tissue seemed to be hardening and tightening to the point where it was very painful. I started going to various doctors to get opinions about what was going on, but the diagnosis seemed to be just an issue with the scar tissue. In May of 2017 I had just had a clear mammogram when I went to another doctor who biopsied the area and found a recurrence of cancer in my right breast.
So that started the whole process over again, but I’m a pro this time around. I started getting recommendations for potential treatment, asking a lot of questions and working with my naturopathic oncologist again. As I write this, I’m preparing for a bi-lateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction. I will be updating this page as well as documenting the process in the blog section, so I invite you to follow along.
My instinct tells me that I wasn’t done learning from cancer, I needed another chance to really internalize the lessons it started to teach me the first time. I had been forgetting many of the things I learned from my first experience with cancer, and apparently, the universe thinks I need a refresher. Or maybe it’s because I was supposed to create this website to share my experience with others and I needed some prompting. Who knows.
I will address these and many other unanswerable questions in my blog posts and on the resource pages, as best I can. Thank you for reading and following along. I hope that my story helps you or someone you care about in a small way.