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Soon Kim

Finding Her Strength

Holy Name Cancer Center - Soon Kim

Don't give up. Ever. Ms. Soon Kim believes it, lives it and shares the philosophy with those she meets facing a hard time.

For nearly three years, Ms. Kim had been suffering with random, unexplainable pain. She had a lot of discomfort through her torso, even the bands from her bra and underwear were causing pressure. Then she developed a sharp pain in the joint between her leg and abdomen. When she started having trouble urinating, she sought medical help.

Her doctor found nothing wrong so she thought it might be from sitting all day at her business, manicuring people's nails. She cut her workweek down to two or three days, yet her symptoms persisted, for about three years.

"Then my sister had a dream that I had cancer and I heard a man talk at my church about surviving cancer," Ms. Kim, 61, said. "I knew I had to find out what was wrong."

She went back to her doctor, requesting more tests. Her instinct was right, an ultrasound revealed a mass on her left ovary. Now she tells other women to pay attention to their bodies.

"If you feel something isn't right, seek medical attention," Ms. Kim said. "You may catch cancer before it spreads."

While searching for an oncologist, Ms. Kim, who speaks Korean as her first language, immediately thought of Holy Name and the culturally sensitive care the Medical Center provides. She knew that translators would be available, which would make her feel more comfortable as she navigated through her diagnosis and treatment. She found Dr. Sharyn Lewin, Medical Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Holy Name and nationally known for her expertise in gynecologic cancers.

"Dr. Lewin, her staff and all the people at Holy Name treated me like family," said Ms. Kim, from Secaucus. "Everyone was so professional and explained everything to me. They even provided transportation services when I couldn't get to the hospital for treatment."

Ms. Kim's surgery went well, though it left her feeling weak, both physically and emotionally. Chemotherapy treatments was also taxing; she found it hard to eat. At one point, she fainted while her 31- and 27-year-old sons were with her. It scared them all.

"Even though I had been told I needed to eat, I felt so sick that I avoided food. But when I fainted, I realized I needed to eat to keep my strength up," Ms. Kim said. "So after that, no matter how bad I felt, I forced myself to eat something. And that's what I tell people. Don't give up. Keep pushing yourself and you'll be glad you did."

Ms. Kim found strength through her faith, singing hymns and church members who brought her meals. She also found courage and fortitude from the support groups she attended hosted by Holy Name's Cancer Support Community.

"Accepting that I had cancer was hard," Ms. Kim said. "But I'm so grateful to Dr. Lewin – she saved my life. And now I'm back to living that life. I play golf, hike, cook, clean – all the things I did before. Every time I pass Holy Name, I pray for all the doctors, nurses and staff who take care of the patients. They save people every day."

Learn more about Ms. Soon Kim's gynecologic oncology doctor today