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Kayla’s Story: Bravely Facing Breast Cancer Before Her 38th Birthday
PreventionPatient Stories

Kayla’s Story: Bravely Facing Breast Cancer Before Her 38th Birthday

October 23, 2019

One day before Thanksgiving of 2018, Kayla Spilde received the worst news of her life.

“You have breast cancer.”

Her worries started a couple of months prior, as she noticed a small lump during a regular self-exam.

“I silently questioned if it could be anything,” shares Kayla. “And I just kept going through the motions of regular life.”

Kayla & her family

Simple Screening

Then, the free clinical breast exams at Altru’s Breast Center caught Kayla’s attention. At age 37, she hadn’t planned to schedule a mammogram before it was necessary; however, a simple screening sounded like a good way to ease her worries.

“I met with Nicole Hylden, NP, and after examining me, she recommended I continue with a mammogram and ultrasound,” explains Kayla. “It could just be calcifications, but it could also be more.”

A couple of weeks later, Nicole ordered a biopsy.

“That word seemed scary,” shares Kayla. “I started to think this might be serious.”

The Diagnosis

About a week later, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Kayla received the dreaded call. It was breast cancer.

After sharing the news with her husband, Tryg, Kayla told her parents that evening. The next day, they kept quiet as they celebrated the holiday with Tryg’s extended family.

“We told everyone on Friday instead,” shares Kayla. “We didn’t want to ruin the holiday.”

Kayla and Tryg’s kids, Kelsey (fifth grade) and Hunter (third grade) seemed to know something was up after several appointments.

“My kids were worried,” shares Kayla. “Grandpa died of cancer, so they immediately associated that word with death.”

Next Steps

Soon after the holiday weekend, Kayla and Tryg met with her surgeon, Dr. Stefan Johnson, to discuss lumpectomy options. “We needed to decide if I would take care of just the cancerous breast, or take both at once,” she explains.

Next, they met with her plastic surgeon, Dr. Kevin Muiderman, to talk through options.

Surgery—a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction—was scheduled for December 20.

“While it wasn’t an easy decision, I was glad to have both replaced at once. I wanted to be done with it.”

Just a few days before Christmas, Kayla’s surgery at Altru Hospital went well with no complications, and she continued the healing process throughout the winter months.

Follow-up appointments continued through April, as Dr. Muiderman monitored Kayla’s healing and checked her lymph nodes. No chemotherapy was needed.

In May, Kayla’s gynecologist recommended removing her fallopian tubes as well, as these can be affected after breast cancer. Kayla opted to have the minimally invasive surgery that month.


Back to Health

“I’m happy to report I’m cancer-free today,” smiles Kayla, who continues with annual check-ups. “I’m lucky it was caught very early.”

Kayla is back to enjoying regular life as an active mom and wife in East Grand Forks. When she’s not busy working in the office, she can often be found attending her kids’ basketball games, watching UND hockey, or enjoying deer hunting as a family. She’s living life to the fullest, thanks to putting her health first.

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