October is Breast Cancer awareness month. A former ECU student's father has a strong message for current students -- breast cancer can happen to you. Darryl and Vicki Nester know that all too well because their daughter was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 23, while a student at ECU. Kim Sibbach died at age 26.
Monday night, a year after her death, they told Kim's story.
"We have got so many pictures of her when she's laughing, and it's not just a laugh, but her head is all the way back and it's a barrel laugh. That was Kim," described Vicki Lester, Kim's mother.
It's that laughter and that sunshine that still shines through all the grief today. The memories of ECU grad Kim Sibbach still bring a smile to her mom. But the smiles hide several years of pain. Kim's father says it all started in 2007 with a lump in Kim's left breast.
"Her health care provider asked her one question, do you have breast cancer in your family, and Kim said no and the midwife says 'then don't worry about it'," said Darryl Nester, Kim's father.
A year later, Kim saw her health provider again. The lump was bigger and this time Kim was diagnosed with stage four Breast Cancer - the worst stage.
It's one reason why Nester took the stage at ECU's Hendrix Theater Monday night to talk to students about his daughter's cancer. He told the students, "you're about to see a grown man cry."
Nester's message for the students, "not only do I want you to understand your body, but I want you to be a strong advocate for yourself. You have to ask the hard questions, you have to get satisfaction and if you're not happy, go somewhere else."
But Kim also got out her own message. She started a blog called "I didn't like the left one anyway." She wrote about the pain and the endless treatments and doctors visits, but she did it all with a healthy dose of humor. Her last entry is December 7, 2010, and it ends with Kim writing "a couple of months ago, cancer hadn't really stolen that much from me. Today it feels like it has robbed me of a future, or at least the future I had planned for myself."
Kim died four months later at the age of 26, but she lived life to the fullest in those 26 short years.
"How do you sum up a person's life? She lived the dash, the dash between the date of birth and the date of death which encompasses a person's life. She had a strong zest for life," Darryl Nester summed up about the way Kim lived.
There's another event coming up in Greenville where we can raise awareness and money for Breast Cancer. It's the 9th Annual Bunco for Breast Cancer Fundraiser. Join Newschannel 12's Jaime McCutcheon and the Greenville Women's League for the event this Thursday at the Greenville Convention Center. Doors open up at 5:30 p.m. The event raises money to help cancer patients in Eastern North Carolina as they undergo treatment.