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Harbin Clinic Co-Workers Find Friendship in Breast Cancer Journey

Breast Cancer can feel like a vulnerable, lonely diagnosis. This October, Harbin Clinic shares the story of Harbin employees turned friends and the cancer journeys that led them to find each other and healing. 

As Linda Timms and Kristi Broom sit together for an interview, their familiarity and shared experience are palpable. At one time, they were just coworkers whose jobs inhabited the same building. Earlier this year, however, their story of friendship was set in motion with a diagnosis.

Linda Timms’ priorities are spending time with her high school sweetheart and husband of 43 years, her children, and grandchildren. She is also proactive about her health. She is a healthy eater, does not smoke or drink, and is always on top of preventative care.

Imagine her surprise when conducting a routine self-breast exam, she felt a hard knot in her breast. Feeling concerned, she made an appointment for a mammogram.

“Everyone involved in my care was so proactive. I found the mass on Thursday, had a clinical check-up, mammogram, ultrasound, and met with Harbin Clinic General Surgeon Dr. Paul Brock all within a week,” explains Linda.

Dr. Brock walked her through surgery options, dependent upon her pathology report the following week. On Tuesday, Dr. Brock delivered her hardest news yet. The tumor was triple-negative breast cancer and would require a lumpectomy, removal of four lymph nodes, and further treatment at the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center.

“I was in shock. This had to be a bad dream. I lost it, but Dr. Brock was compassionate,” describes Linda, “I kept telling myself that life happens. Sometimes it brings us joy, and sometimes it slaps us in the face. I decided to choose joy.”

And that is exactly what she did. As she pushed through surgery and treatment, however, she learned of someone in her department who had also been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Kristi Broom and Linda Timms

Kristi Broom took off Valentine’s Day 2022 to enjoy the holiday. Part of her self-care day included her annual mammogram. When her results came back, she was shocked to discover that she had a 5 cm lump in her breast.

“I was not in a good place when this happened, but Linda hunted me down after my diagnosis,” Kristi says, grinning at her friend. “This was my fifth time with cancer, but my other experiences had been surgical, not treatment-based. She could see the fear in my eyes. Linda is the one who made me strong and encouraged me to adopt a you-can-do-it attitude throughout my treatment.”

Listening to their stories, laughter and tears, it was clear they had shared many emotional ups and downs.  Linda coached Kristi throughout journey, sharing valuable treatment tips and gear, such as specific mittens to protect Kristi from losing fingernails. 

Kristi and Linda also both saw Medical Oncologist Dr. Melissa Dillmon at the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center for treatment. “She’s a hero for so many!” says Kristi.

When treating Linda, Dr. Dillmon walked her through a plan that was built to fit her exact needs. She even assured Linda she would choose a similar plan for herself if she had cancer. “She wasn’t going through the motions,” expresses Linda, “She was really connecting with me.”

Linda’s final treatment was on May 5th, 2022, and Kristi’s followed on August 25th, 2022.

“I’m feeling better, and I won’t complain. I just can’t say enough about Linda, the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center, my work family and my family,” shares Kristi.

For women of all ages, Kristi and Linda share these words:

“Life is busy. Life is fleeting. Enjoy each day – choose joy – but never forget to push pause for preventative care. Be proactive. Then push play and get back to living.” – Linda Timms

“Get checked. Get checked. Get checked. Cancer moves your priorities around quickly. It taught me to slow down and gave me perspective.” – Kristi Broom

Harbin Clinic physicians were honored to play a role in Kristi and Linda’s healing this year. Learn more about the importance of preventative health screenings and the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center here.

As seen in the Rome News-Tribune

Published October 4, 2022