What is Kimi's Closet?
Kimi's Closet Inc. functions solely to address the needs of an underserved population. Women diagnosed with Triple-Negative invasive breast cancer ( TNBC), the rarest and most aggressive breast cancer.
Triple - Negative invasive breast cancer effects women 40 to 50 years of age and greater percentage of African American and Hispanic women with BRCA1 gene mutation.
My name is Kimberly Skinner. I am a mother of 2 teenagers, ages 19 and 17.
On December 31, 2019, at the tender age of 38, I was diagnosed with triple-negative invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis 2B (TNBC), after being misdiagnosed with benign tumors a month earlier. Happy New Year? Not so much. At the point of my new diagnosis, I realized I needed to become a patient advocate—my own advocate.
How could something so catastrophic be misdiagnosed? As I frantically researched, trying to understand not just how I had been misdiagnosed but how I had this particular form of breast cancer, I became acutely aware of the treatment disparities within the healthcare system. Had I not kept asking questions, insisting on tests, telling my doctors what I was experiencing, I would have remained misdiagnosed and therefore, untreated for months. Those months would have allowed the cancer to grow and metastasize more.
I pressed my case. Fortunately, my new doctors listened.
Still, it was a tough journey. I completed six months of chemotherapy (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) Taxol). I had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and had several lymph nodes removed. That was followed by three rounds of radiation.
I was ready to be finished. Unfortunately, I was not.
Something wasn’t right. My doctor recommended a PET scan that revealed bilateral ovarian tumors. Hoping to stop the spread, I endured more treatments but finally had to have a total hysterectomy.
Through it all, the nagging question remained: Why was I on this journey? I did the things I was ‘supposed" to do. I was basically healthy. I was not obese. I did my monthly breast exams. Was there a genetic factor I knew nothing about? I asked my mother and grandmother. There was no TNBC in our family that they knew of, but maybe in our ancestors?
The test was done, and when the results of my BRAC 1&2 gene tests were negative, I was devastated. Medically, there was no rhyme or reason for my cancer diagnosis. I kept asking myself and others, if there is no medical reason, then why am I going through this?
Finally, from the depths of my despair, I prayed: “If there is no known cause of my cancer, then God, please give my diagnosis a purpose, a reason! Make my life count!”
And you know what? He did! As I progressed from diagnosis, to treatment, to recovery, I realized the devasting effect TNBC has on the African American female population. This group of women is disproportionately affected and consequently less likely to receive the timely, appropriate care and support that are so vital to positive outcomes. This group also has a variety of subsequent needs that go unspoken, and therefore, unmet—mentally, physically, financially, and socially.
This realization inspired a dream from which grew a project I named “Kimi’s Closet, Inc.“ It is the mission of Kimi’s Closet, Inc., to give scholarships to African American Women who are currently being treated or who have been treated for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (or the child of a woman in that group) who wants to return to school.
Kimi’s Closet, Inc., also sends monthly “Comfort Pouches” and other encouraging items to these women for three months of their journey. These points of contact are meant to mitigate the sense of being alone while bringing a ray of sunshine into some very dark days.
Today, I find joy in being part of the reason others can smile, feel supported, and cared for—a reason to hope. This is my purpose! This is the reason for this particular journey.
With the statistics on TNBC and the percentages of recurrence of cancer, I don't know how long my journey will be, but I cherish each day and share my story in hopes that it will help others.
To each of my Pink Sisters I confidently say, “YOU CAN DO THIS!” Look at your battle scars and understand--YOU are a warrior! Be your OWN advocate. Ask the questions. Remember, the only “wrong” question is the one you do not ask. Your life just may depend on the answer you get. So, ASK.