Kelly Miyahara‘s Breast Cancer Story
My mom has watched “Jeopardy” since I can remember. It was the one shows our family was allowed to watch during dinner because it was educational, and my mom was a schoolteacher. One weekend, Sunday morning, my parents called to tell me about an ad they saw on TV. They were looking for a new Jeopardy Clue Crew member, those are the folks who present the video clues and traveled the world to film them. I didn’t think they were really going to pick someone from a nationwide search, but I also thought, “you can’t not try!” That’s when I learned that anything is possible. I tried, I entered the nationwide search, and the experience enough was great. I thought it couldn’t get better – until I got the job, and that changed my life.
This year has marked a huge change in my life in many, many ways. Our family’s cancer journey began when my sister was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in June of 2017. It was a shock to us all. She was genetic tested, a BRCA2 mutation was found in my family, and the doctors couldn’t help but think that it probably got passed down from my dad. My mom was over 70 at the time and had never been diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer, or any cancer for that matter. Then a few months after my sister’s diagnosis, my mom was diagnosed, too. Luckily, hers was caught very early.
I was worrying about my sister and my mom and getting healthy and figuring that out. Our family put our energy towards supporting them. I thought, “we’ll figure me out later. I’m okay.” They went through their journey and thankfully are both healthy now and cancer-free.
Then, I knew it was my turn to figure out what I was going to do. I started to see doctors and figure out what my options were. Ultimately, I decided to put my preventative, at the time, surgery first. I was leaving “Jeopardy” in December and I scheduled my surgery for the first week of January of 2019.
I was prepared to be a “pre-vivor,” which is what they call folks who choose preventative treatment, like a preventative double mastectomy. And then they found cancer in my pathology, so suddenly, I’m a breast cancer survivor. It just didn’t register for me. To be honest, I felt like I’d cheated, somehow. I was so lucky to have two people in my family who knew what I was going to have to go through, who had already been there, who understood it before I could even imagine it. That is a huge gift. When my mom and I first found out we were BRCA2 positive, my sister immediately started bawling. She felt responsible somehow, you know, that it was her who started this. I told her, “No, you gave us the gift of knowing.”
It’s amazing how something so terrible can actually be a gift, can actually be positive, and it gives people the opportunity to understand, to learn, and to know that something like this is out there. It could save a life, and that’s what it’s all about at this point. My family’s always been close. This all has made us even closer.
Tour de Pier, the event, the organization is impeccable. The energy is wonderful, so in 2016 I joined the team. That’s when Team One Love was born. It was great to be there and to be around other people who were all doing something for a really worthy cause. I ride at Tour de Pier because being involved matters. Fundraising, creating awareness, inspiring others, and being together for a good cause makes a difference, and it’s pretty amazing that we’re all making the world a better place together.