Karla Batt knows firsthand that the unexpected can happen. The Defiance woman is both a childhood cancer survivor and a breast cancer survivor.
When she was 19, Batt was in Florida attending travel school. She had a cold and sore throat and then discovered a lump on her neck. Since she would be headed back to Ohio in another six weeks, her doctor told her to wait to be seen. Looking back, she knows that was not the right advice.
By the time she was seen, a diagnosis came back as stage 2A Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. The cancer ran down one side of the heart. It was caught early enough that radiation five days a week for three months halted the spread. She has been cancer free from Hodgkin’s for 36 years.
Batt appreciates the advancements of present day medicine, particularly for screenings and scans. One of the worst parts of the Hodgkin’s diagnosis was the exploratory surgery done to see exactly what was happening. Today, a scan would have been much less invasive.
She faced another unexpected diagnosis 12 years ago when breast cancer was found. Again, it was detected early enough, that no chemotherapy was required. And there has not been a recurrence.
She cannot stress enough the importance in getting the screenings done for prevention and early detection.
“The mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA levels, and any other screenings need to be done — even when there is coronavirus pandemic. Early detection can truly be life-saving,” she added.
Batt’s personal experience with cancer was life-changing in more ways than one. There had not been any cancer diagnosis in her family prior to that Hodgkin’s diagnosis. It was a true eye-opener, bringing awareness of what could happen. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 60s, and with colon cancer twice. She too survived all three events without chemotherapy due to early detection.
“It is important to know your body, and have those screenings done,” Batt emphasizes.
Batt’s survivor status led to an invitation to a Relay for Life event in Hicksville. Batt liked what she saw, and the thought of career change became a possibility. She spoke to the director of the county cancer board about the availability of a position and a spot was soon found for her. She has worked her way up through the ranks through the years. She now holds the position of senior community development manager, with duties including the Relay for Life events in Defiance, Henry and Williams counties.
The desire to better the community is not limited to American Cancer Society events. Batt is a member of the Defiance Development and Visitor Board and active in her church. She and her husband, Craig, are the parents of two sons.
Batt was one of the Gold Together Champions of Northern Ohio for September’s Childhood/Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. Donations are still being accepted for the fundraiser through December to help make up for the loss of fundraisers because of COVID-19 restrictions on in-person events. Donations can be made to the GoldTogether Champions of Northern Ohio website or by mailing a donation to American Cancer Society/North Central Region, Attention: GoldTogether Champions of Northern Ohio (name of candidate), 10501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland 44106.
According to information from the American Cancer Society, about 11,050 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Childhood cancer rates have been rising slightly for the past few decades. Because of major treatment advances in recent decades, 84% of children with cancer now survive five years or more. Overall, this is a huge increase since the mid-1970s, when the five-year survival rate was about 58%. Still, survival rates can vary a great deal depending on the type of cancer and other factors. After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14.