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Cancer survivor, gift shop coordinator speaks out to help others

Cancer survivor, gift shop coordinator speaks out to help others

A year after chemo treatment, Kim Weist is stepping out to encourage others.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

There’s a photo of Kim Weist smiling as she completes a 5K walk. She’s wearing a racing bib with her participant number and underneath is attached another tag with the word: “Survivor.” The photo was taken at the Colon Cancer Coalition’s “Get Your Rear in Gear” fundraising event.

It signifies Weist’s second effort to publicly acknowledge her colon cancer diagnosis. The first was telling her story to other IU Health patients and families. What’s unique about Weist’s story is that she is both an IU Health patient and a team member. For several years she has served as the gift shop coordinator for the Riley Cheer Guild supporting seven gift shops at IU Health University and Methodist Hospitals, IU Health North, and Riley Hospital.

In 2021, after a routine screening, Weist learned she has colon cancer.

“It has now been one year since my last chemo treatment. The vigilance involved in monitoring my body for signs of cancer after chemo continues until I get negative test results for circulating tumor DNA in my blood,” said Weist, 60. Despite fear that comes with ongoing testing and appointments, Weist said she is working harder to manage an emotional rollercoaster by getting back to exercise.

“I had become puny and weak from the chemo treatments so during the summer I increased my walking pace and distance to start getting back into shape,” she said. When she was asked to participate in the Colon Cancer Coalition walk, she said it was not only an opportunity to gain exercise, it was also an opportunity to join others with a cancer diagnosis. The Colon Cancer Coalition’s mission is to improve health outcomes by reducing barriers to complete colorectal cancer screening and educating others to advocate for their health. The annual walk raises funds that support community programs.

“I was surprised by how empowering it was to pin the ‘Survivor’ banner under by race banner. I was filled with joy and thanksgiving when I looked at myself in pictures because that banner felt like a badge of honor and accomplishment,” said Weist. Her husband, Mike, accompanied her on the walk.

“Other people at the event who were not cancer patients stopped me and asked about my journey and how I got to where I could claim ‘survivor’ and congratulated me. I think I finally realized that it was ok to allow myself some credit for fighting to get well. I never thought of the persistence and willingness to live as being a big part of getting well,” said Weist.

Since the walk, Weist has begun seeking other opportunities to help others by sharing her experiences.

“Transparency was something I have never had trouble with and I knew that if someone ever needed to share the special challenges that go along with colon cancer, I could certainly help talk them through it.”

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She’s served and been served by IU Health and finds cheer in every little act of kindness - Kim Weist is the Gift Shop Project Coordinator for Riley Cheer Guild. She’s also a cancer survivor who looks for the best in every situation.


Colon Cancer

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