Managing Breast Cancer Like a Boss

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, if you’d like to join the fight against Breast Cancer, please go to www.Komen.org to donate today.

From Susan G. Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

Caregivers provide much-needed support for those going through breast cancer. This can be in the form of emotional support such as listening or giving a hug; in the form of practical help like driving to and from doctor appointments, cooking, cleaning or grocery shopping; and through providing informational support like gathering data or the latest news on breast cancer. Mountains of paperwork, medical information and appointments can be overwhelming and a lot for families to manage, especially while they are also trying to ensure that their loved ones feel cared for and understood.  Today’s guest is a powerhouse entrepreneur – she was the co-founder of designer jeans brand True Religion, is a 25-year fashion industry veteran, has launched five style brands, develops and produces film and television projects with a social conscience, wrote a book, is a philanthropist and also a mentor to young fashion designers. She is also a triplet and was a caregiver to her mom throughout her battle with metastatic breast cancer.  Here today to share her story and how she helped manage her mom’s breast cancer journey like a boss is Kym Gold. Kym, welcome to the show!

[00:01:44] Kym Gold: Hi, Adam. That was well said. Well done.

[00:01:47] Adam Walker: We’ve got good writers. We’ve got good writers. Well, I’m so excited to talk to you. You know, you’re so accomplished and a triplet, so we’ll talk about that angle as well. But to start with, can you give us some background on your mom’s breast cancer story?

[00:02:04] Kym Gold: You know, it’s interesting. It started a really long time ago. She had a, she had about. Three different times that she dealt with it. So it just kept coming back. First was with the lumpectomy, then it was a mastectomy, and then the, at the, the third time was more about, it, you know, metastasizing in her lungs and, you know, had to take the lymph nodes out. So the third time around was just, you know, I think, I hate to say it like this, but the beginning of the end.

[00:02:35] Adam Walker: I’m so sorry to hear that. And, and, and what, I mean, if you don’t mind me asking, like what was that timeframe like? You said it just sort of kept coming back. Do you recall kind of what that span was of time?

[00:02:45] Kym Gold: Yeah. You know, it’s, it was really, very, it was a very distinct time because I was pregnant with my second, so that, my second child, I have three boys. My second was, it was at, in, 94. And then literally she was completely free for about seven years. and then again 10 years after that. So it felt like it just had a very specific timeframe. From seven first, from seven to 10, and, That was, that was the timeframe.

[00:03:20] Adam Walker: Okay. And so, as I mentioned in the intro, I understand you’re a triplet, which I think you’re the first triplet that I’ve ever interviewed, so that’s exciting. So do, do you and your sisters, I mean, do you have to be monitored more closely due to family history or, or kind of what do you do regarding sort of making sure you’re taking care of yourself?

[00:03:38] Kym Gold: Oh yeah. I mean, I think number one, I know this is going to be an odd thing to say, but it, it, you know, is that I had breast implants taken out just to double Sure. Just to make sure that, you know, you could see I have a 3D image as well, which is really great. But the three of us, Are so on top of it. My, my stepmother does do cancer research also at, Cedars.

She started at the, Revel and Institute at ucla. So really is a topic of discussion on the regular. Did you get your mammogram? Did you go? How are you? Do you want to go together? Should we do this together? What do you want to do? Let’s have lunch after. So we almost make it a fun . It’s such a hassle to get it, but yeah, we, we make it a fun situation.

[00:04:27] Adam Walker: I love that. Yeah. It’s a date. Well, I mean, I, I love that because so often, families don’t talk about illness. Families don’t talk about preventative. And you sort of flip that on its head and make it into like, Oh, let’s, let’s do this all together and then let’s go to lunch. Like that sounds kind of amazing. I mean, not the test part, but the, Oh.

[00:04:48] Kym Gold: Well, you know, it’s interesting. My sister, one of my sisters now a well known artist, was an acupuncturist. And so there was always the discussion of alternative medicine with diet, with chemo, and making sure that you do, you know, acupuncture and herbs and an alternative, lifestyle in conjunction.

With chemo. But you know, we come from a very big Jewish family, very sarcastic. So it’s always, you know, if you can, it’s not a joking matter, but I do believe in laughter and sarcasm to get through the most difficult times, for sure.

[00:05:29] Adam Walker: Hmm. Well, so speaking of, you know, kind of health and, and getting through things well, what are some of the things that you do to focus on, to live your healthiest lives now and to keep your risk?

[00:05:42] Kym Gold: Oh my goodness. Oh, wow. I, I work out four or five times a week. I mean, if you could see this water bottle, I mean, it’s a gallon a day.

[00:05:51] Adam Walker: That’s fantastic.

[00:05:53] Kym Gold: No, it’s seriously, I think water is the key. I grow my own fruits and vegetables. I do my best and I eat anything out of a box, and really mindful of my stress. I mean, in finding the joy really as much as possible and not being around toxic people. Yeah. I mean, literally at 56, I don’t want to be around anything toxic. I’ve earned that. Right?

[00:06:20] Adam Walker: Yeah. I, I think you have, and I think that’s a, that’s a great way to live your life is, is eliminate the toxicities from real life, not just the foods, but perhaps sometimes the people. So, so let’s talk about the support. That you had gave to your mom, How did you approach that as a family? Did you split up care responsibilities and, and how did your mom feel about that?

[00:06:41] Kym Gold: Well, so there was five of us. So there’s this three sisters, an older brother and a younger brother. And you know, it’s funny because as soon as I went into business mode it was like, okay, let out the crack.

And Kym’s here and you know, with the scheduling and meeting the oncologist and you know, I even got pill, which they think I’m O C D, I’m not. I’m just very. How to take the pills, doing ’em daily. What are your dosage dosages? Scheduling, Who’s taking her for chemo? Who’s bringing her back? I believe support in anything that we go through.

Whatever it is. I mean, it could be anything. Mm. Is the most important thing you could do in, in, in life. And I find that my mom felt, I got this, I’m going to go through this. You know, you go through chemo and then you’re sick as hell and then it’s time to go back again. So if you know someone’s taking you, you don’t have to ask, you don’t feel guilty about asking and you make it almost like, you know, a business.

[00:07:48] Adam Walker: Yeah, I, you know, I love what you said because you, I think you said, You know, support is, is the most important thing you do. And I, I love hearing that coming from a successful entrepreneur, ceo, right? Because I think I, because a lot of times when you think of the successful entrepreneur, you think of someone that doesn’t have time to support, and yet you, you take the time, you make the time. It’s that important. And I, I really admire that. That’s a really profound statement.

[00:08:14] Kym Gold: Oh, I appreciate that. I mean, I, I have said probably for the last, my, my, my oldest is going to be 30 and I have three now, and I have a grandson. I find that I have said my biggest accomplishment is my family are, my children are my relationships.

I’m telling you people who have businesses, You’re only as good as your team. So if you can hire people around you, then you can support what’s most important. Yeah. My business is not going to kiss me at night. It’s not going to gimme a high five. I swear to, you know, when, when I, when I, you know, get a sale, you know, my kids are, my husband is, you know, my friends.

And I think if people find that out early on, you can find support in whatever it is that. Fall, you know, find yourself in or, or not, but get, have that in your pockets. Be supportive and find the people that you know will support you right back.

[00:09:14] Adam Walker: Yeah, I, I mean, that’s just so important. I love that perspective. I, I really appreciate you sharing that. So, let’s talk about choosing an oncologist. Were you a part of that process and how did you go about choosing the right oncologist? Tell me about,

[00:09:27] Kym Gold: You know, I find that word of mouth is a really great way of talking to people about their personal experiences with that doctor.

Okay. because there’s, you know, you got five kids in there. in that meeting with my mom. Who’s this lady who’s going to take care of my mom? How is she answering questions? What’s her bedside matter? What is she going to, she going to make my, my mom feel like she’s just a number. Another lady with cancer. So the communication, I’m an overcommunicator and I.

It’s the most important thing with anything that we do. When I say business or support or, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the entirety of my life over communicating, being transparent and not being afraid to answer questions. I find people who, who are in this situation don’t even know what questions to ask.

Mm-hmm. And their mindset is such that they’re just afraid. Yeah. Like, they’re like, Fuck, what am I going to do? Oh my God. I, I don’t need, you know, Okay, let me, let me, let me handle it. Let me do the research and let me see how you, I’m hiring you as if you’re going to work for me because you are. Yeah. Yeah. You’re

[00:10:38] Adam Walker: working for me.

I love that perspective. And so, so what are the questions? Like what are some of the questions that people should think about asking their oncologist? What are some of the questions you ask? What are your hours?

I would’ve never thought to start there, but that’s kinda brilliant. Yeah. Who

[00:10:58] Kym Gold: do you, what kind of vacation time are you, you know, are you, taking in this next year? Who do you know in the, in the community that you can also refer? Who’s on your team if you’re not available? You know, it was, it would be like, I’m interviewing my COO or my CFO or something.

Is, is why, why are you doing this? Like, I’m interviewing you. What, why are you, Do you have somebody that you’ve lost? You know, why is this important to you? What is your specialty when it comes to cancer? Is it, is it cervical? Is it breast? Is it, you know, how many people have you treated? And, and I do find that people with experience, women with experience understand women going through it.

So for me, a woman was important. And I also like to see how somebody reacts to the whole family coming in.

[00:12:01] Adam Walker: Huh. Okay. So like, just walk me through that for a moment. Like what was the response like, not, not just to five kids coming into the meeting, but to, I like only, I can’t imagine many physicians get those questions.

So like, what was, what was the response like?

[00:12:19] Kym Gold: She was taken aback. We walked in. Are all of you in this? Yes. I suggest more chairs. I make it clear that this is how it’s going to be and we’re a team. I mean, this is our tribe, right? Yeah. And mom’s tribe, for God’s sakes. Yeah. You know, and, and she’s not going to be alone in this.

Do you allow people in the, you know, the chemo. I mean, you know, just, just do we have to be quiet in the chemo? Mm-hmm. , you know, can we, can I get an, a room by ourselves? You know, if you could afford or find out if a chemo is, you know, when is it the, the least busy? Is really important because you know, It’s a long time.

[00:13:12] Adam Walker: I would never think to ask that question, When is it le That’s a brilliant question. Like, because that seems like the perfect opportunity to go, like, when’s at least busy? I don’t want to be around a lot of other people.

[00:13:22] Kym Gold: Right? Yeah. So if you don’t like to be around people generally mm-hmm. , which I, when I’m, when I’m, when I, when it’s downtime or alone time mm-hmm.

Where, Where are you? You know what I mean? What are you doing? Are you meditating in the room downstairs? Are you? You don’t know these people. Right? You know, and you know, my mom was a therapist and my mom would probably end. Taking care of the people in the room, and I didn’t want that happening. Yeah. I wanted her to take care of herself.

[00:13:51] Adam Walker: That’s really, really smart. Wow. I, I love those questions. I, I think I just got a masterclass in, interviewing doctors. So, that’s, that’s, you’re the first, I mean, I’ve done a lot of, This is the first time somebody’s taken that perspective, and I really, I really like it. So.

[00:14:06] Kym Gold: That’s how I, that’s how I would, you know, interview my internist or my ob Yeah. I think people should interview doctors as if they’re not God.

[00:14:15] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. And you’re, they’re working for you. Yeah, they are. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, uh, Kym, this is amazing. What, what final advice do you have for our listeners on how to support a parent through breast cancer or maybe some of the things that you discovered were most important through your own experience?

[00:14:34] Kym Gold: I think constantly, letting them know that, you know, I mean, depends on obviously the person, but from my experience, Mom, don’t feel guilty. You’re not, I’m not missing in, I’m not missing out on work. This is important to me. And I think that you let somebody know how important it is and let them know that you want to be there.

It eases the process.

[00:14:55] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. Reminding them that they are your number one priority in that moment.

[00:15:02] Kym Gold: Absolutely. My kids better be the same with God forbid.

[00:15:05] Adam Walker: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I think that’s, that’s what we all hope for, for sure. Yeah. So, Well, Kym, uh, this is amazing. I love your perspective on just the, the emphasis on care for others. And on interviewing people to be a part of kind of your world. I, I think that’s a really smart move. I really appreciate you sharing all your, your, your life experiences with us today.

[00:15:27] Kym Gold: Thanks so much, Adam. It was a pleasure being here. Thank you.

[00:15:31] Adam Walker: In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, if you’d like to join the Fight against Breast Cancer, please go to www.Komen.org to donate today.

Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit RealPink.com. For more on breast cancer, visit Komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog, AdamJWalker.com. 

On Real Pink

"I had a great team at my last business and have the same now. When you have reliable people on your team that feels appreciated and empowered, your business can be unstoppable. Surround yourself with competent and dedicated members that you can trust delegating tasks."

Kym Gold