We are thankful to partner with Memorial Hospital for this educational post during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A shocking breast cancer diagnosis inspired this well-known Gulf Coast mom to take time for her health and advocate for other women.
Karen Sock isn’t known for staying stagnant. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and has lived in Napa, San Francisco, Chicago (where she met her husband Frederick), New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast. She and Frederick are proud parents of one adult daughter, Kristan.
She is a true pioneer in the hospitality and gaming industry. She is the nation’s first African American female to lead the daily operations of a full-service casino for a major gaming company in 1997. In addition, Karen is President and CEO of Sock Enterprises, Inc., a project management and consulting business. And if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also co-founded and developed Pathways2Possibilities:P2P.
P2P is a unique hands-on, interactive career exploration experience. This program exposes 8th graders (and older youth ages 16-24 years old) to the many career options available.
Early Detection is Key
In the Fall of 2010, Karen was taking a shower and felt a small lump under her right breast. Two mammogram appointments were scheduled, then canceled due to her demanding schedule.
It was just before Christmas, and her husband urged her to make an appointment. She had her mammogram, and afterward, the tech had a concerning look on her face. The doctor came into the room and showed her the scan. They saw a small, unusual mass on the screen. Soon after, the tissue was removed at a local surgery center. The next day, Karen received a call from her physician to tell her that the tissue included breast cancer.
She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in December 2010.
For the next few weeks, she followed up with her oncologist for full scans, a biopsy, and additional testing. The doctors recommended she have targeted radiation treatments due to her type of cancer.
She had the 33 radiation treatments, simultaneously working and opening up a small business.
In July 2014, they were hosting their first family reunion for her husband. As luck would have it, she went to a store and accidentally slipped, hurting her shoulder. It was a little sore but she didn’t think anything of it.
From July 2014 until March 2015, she felt that something was wrong and expressed her concerns to her primary care provider. Sometimes, she was so sore she couldn’t lift her arm.
The doctor ordered an MRI. Immediately, she noticed her doctor’s face after seeing the results. He told her that either she had a very bad infection or that her cancer had returned.
The reason Karen was in pain was because she had a cancerous tumor on one of her vertebrae.
The breast cancer had metastasized.
After six months of working with an oncology neurosurgeon, her tumor shrunk in size.
“Every appointment that you go to, you need to know what your options are on the front end. Know what your different types of treatment are, and what the costs are. I am so grateful to have the intellectual, emotional, and financial support that I have from my family. I would also like to thank my oncologist, Dr. Allison Wall. She listens to me, and she understands that I have questions and concerns about the impact of my treatment plan. She is patient and comforting, she discusses my treatment options. She also allows me to be a full partner when making decisions about my healthcare treatment plan. I am truly grateful for her skills and experience.”
Six years later, there have been no new metastases thanks to the appropriate medical treatment.
Education and Advocacy
Telling her story and making herself accessible Karen’s goals. Many know she is passionate about education and promoting advocacy.
“So many people are fearful to ask doctors questions. There is no question you shouldn’t ask. Be your own advocate and deeply invested in the decision about your treatment plan. Everyone has a different case, and there are resources for financial need. Ask about these resources, because not asking these questions is life-threatening.”
Karen uses her voice to help others.
She was recognized as the 2016 Mississippi Gulf Coast Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Breast Cancer Survivor of the Year. She also served as the 2017 Mississippi Gulf Coast Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Honorary Co-Chair. She is also on the Susan G. Komen National Metastatic Breast Cancer Advisory Board. Currently, she is Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Susan G. Komen Memphis-Mid South Mississippi Affiliate.
Even though Karen is involved in numerous committees and boards, she finds time to give back despite her busy schedule.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.
The average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease (98% survival rate if detected early).
Women with an average risk of breast cancer should start annual screening mammograms at age 40.
Women with a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer should start annual screening mammograms at an earlier age and should be offered additional imaging each year. Memorial offers discounts for mammograms and bone density scans.
Learn more by visiting wearememorial.com/breast.