Breast cancer survivor shares how she’s moving on
By Dawn Pearson
Breast cancer doesn’t see color, race, social status or even sex. It doesn’t care if you are a stay at-home mom, an executive at Eli Lilly, a teacher, friend, daughter, sister, aunt or a rock star.
What it cares about is killing women, and some men.
But through years of research, countless fundraising walks honoring fallen victims, public awareness and new treatments, women are fighting back in the war against breast cancer.
Katie Haun, 64, a resident of Zionsville for 37 years, is one of those women.
Haun, a former Eli Lilly executive, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46.
“I was told on a Friday that I had an aggressive form of breast cancer – the following Monday I was the featured speaker at ‘Women’s Health Awareness Day’ at Eli Lilly,” Haun said. “I was well aware of health topics and my whole life always bent in the direction of wellness, but it still happened to me.”
Haun said her diagnosis was a surprise because she had never called in sick to work in more than 17 years.
“I was going to healthy seminars in my 20s and 30s before they were remotely popular,” Haun said. “So my knowledge of nutrition, balanced with sleep, exercise and detoxification helped me with my battle.”
This lifestyle, along with her positive and fearless attitude, would be two of the biggest soldiers in her army she enlisted for the fight of her life, not once, but twice.
“After the death of both parents at age 16 and a near-fatal car accident at age 19, in which my back was broken along with every bone in my face and later the diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer at age 46 I embraced conventional medicine combined with innovative medicine,” Haun said. “This along with my faith and prayers of friends and family was paramount to complete recovery and set the stage for my new career in health and wellness after retiring from a world-wide major pharmaceutical company.”
Haun said all of her brushes with death have only made her stronger.
“I survived many facial surgeries, ditched my walker, became a runway model, ran in 13 half-marathons after my wreck,” she said of her time as a teenager. “Then just two-and-a-half days out of surgery for cancer, I had four holes-in-one and became a performance rower during chemotherapy.”
Haun went through the stem cell transplant surgery and was the first patient at St. Vincent Hospital to go through the transplant as an outpatient. This is the same treatment plan that Robin Roberts from “Good Morning America” went through, according to Haun.
“They kill you to bring you back,” she said of the treatment.
Combining conventional medicine with alternative medicine made the difference. She was given a 55 percent chance to live for five more years after the transplant. That was in 1998, and she has since been cancer free for 17 years.
“I believe I found the cause which took me to the cure for me,” Haun said. “I am also drug free and I have quality of life.”
Fighting for her life helped Haun realize she wanted to “change the face of breast cancer.”
“[I needed to change it] from that bald-headed lady to the lady that took up rowing, had two holes-in-one before breast cancer and two holes-in-one after breast cancer, modeled through treatments and after finishing radiation went on to walk the mini-marathon that same year,” Haun said.
She has run 13 of the last 17 Indianapolis Mini-Marathons and is running her health and wellness business that specializations in heavy metal detoxification with the same drive and tenacity that she fought breast cancer. She started Katie’s Enterprises with her husband Dave Haun to help other cancer patients find a better quality of life.
“Helping and educating people about wellness drives and motivates me,” she said.