She contains multitudes, like all of us, yet her spirit seems to thrive so fully and naturally in being an authentically kind woman. Dorena Kliewer exudes a fierce love for her family. Married for 34 years to her husband Bob, the two have raised two grown kids, Ryan and Rachelle. It’s with this strong family unit that she has walked through her story of cancer.
In early May 2018 something was spotted in Dorena’s standard mammogram screening. More tests were needed and so the waiting began. This was a difficult time she explains. The wondering, the anticipation of what’s to come. Moments of hope and also anxiety. An ultrasound guided biopsy was inconclusive. Next up, an MRI guided biopsy, which detected three lumps on her right breast and one small lump on her left. After more testing it was concluded that the right breast only was positive for an early form of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a non-invasive cancer commonly found in the lining of the breast milk duct. The official diagnosis came on May 24, 2018
At this point Dorena reached out to a few chosen friends, including Heidi Goff. Heidi and Dorena are both long time members of CrossFit Absolute in Sherwood, OR. Among other commonalities they are both dedicated, fit, healthy women. Dorena has attended CrossFit Absolute for 5 years and has known Heidi for 4 years. Heidi says Dorena “is the sweetest person I have met”. She explains that Dorena was initially quite, but as they became familiar with each other it was an easy kinship. They can talk and talk like they’ve known each other forever. Dorena also processes the rare trait of being a good listener. Letting the people in her life vent. Sometimes helping or offering constructive advice. When Dorena shared the news of a cancer diagnois, Heidi knew she was grappeling with so many unanswered questions and at the same time focused on staying positive. Positivity continued to be a mantra and copping mechanism as Dorena choose a treatment option and went into surgery. The people around her helped echo that mantra. She didn’t want to make a fuss over it and so the folks she shared openly with were quite happy to hold Dorena close in their hearts, thoughts and prayers. Happy to listen and offer support. Heidi says she could go on for days about Dorena, but specifically mentioned how much Dorena loves her husband and kids. That she’d do absolutely anything to protect them. This fierce way of living can be such a gift. It also can make it challenging to be sick or in recovery mode. Dorena’s daughter Rachelle says that her mom has always been a caretaker, a giver. This experience has been an opportunity for the people around her to give back. The two have also visited about the experience being an opportunity for Dorena to slow down a bit. Take care of herself, physically, mentally and emotionally.
A really big lesson Dorena learned along the way was to be thorough. To ask the oncologist, surgeon and medical staff along the way all the questions she had. To not hold back on that. She credits Bridget Corsetti, who also attends CrossFit Absolute for this advice. As she learned about the treatment and reconstruction options it was a really valuable tool for making decisions that best suited her.
Prior to the surgery Dorena was baptized, in a river, with her family, by a friend of her daughter. She explains that she has leaned on her faith, believing that in many ways she was prepared prior to receiving the news of breast cancer. She and her husband Bob had recently updated their home, including an adjustable bed that was perfect for post surgery healing. Bob recently changed his schedule and started working more from home. Her daughter and sister-in-law both used skills they have learned through work as an LPC and registered nurse to assist before and after surgery.
Dorena ultimately elected for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. She is currently healing from the mastectomy and preparing for the reconstruction. Her plastic surgeon is Bruce Webber, member of CrossFit Wilsonville. The cancer was removed successfully and she does not need to proceed with chemotherapy or radiation. Prior to surgery Dorena was hitting CrossFit Absolute for workouts 3-4 days at week at 5am. Staying active and conscious of eating health foods. She’d never had surgery or been on medication. With this strong core of healthful living her recovery from the initial surgery has been speedy. The drain tubes were actually removed a week earlier than expected. After three days of bed rest she told her daughter, “I’m bored”, which gave Rachelle a good laugh.
Rachelle, who clearly adores her mom describes their relationship as close, her mom as sassy, big hearted, competitive and extremely compassionate. Echoing this sentiment Heidi says she’s “strong and courageous. Beautiful on the inside and out.”
An experience at first glance can be considered bad. Dorena recognized that and from the very beginning decided to let it serve her in some way. She set down some of her hesitancy and let the people who love her do just that. She learned in a deep way how to ask questions, advocate for herself and then sit with the options and choose the one that made the most sense to her and her life. She has taken time to slow down. As a busy woman, who works full time, easier said than done! To reflect. With her sister-in-law and daughter she has worked on meditation techniques and learned first hand how that can benefit her experience of life. She’s giving thanks for such a terrific outcome and hopes her experience can in some way serve others. Cancer can be scary. It can also push away the junk and let the light shine through.