October 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 83

Sl No 52 BRAVA Magazine October 2011 owing Down "Joan, you need to slow down." Joan Kamholz hears that a lot lately, mostly from the staff at Susan G. Komen for the Cure South Central Wisconsin in Madi- son. "But I just can't do enough fast enough," she exclaims as she rapidly taps her palms against a patio table at the Panera Bread Co. on Junction Rd. It wasn't hard to spot Kamholz in the lunch-hour crowd: Pink shirt, pink ribbon necklace, pink ribbon pin, and drinking a strawberry smoothie…pink of course. It's not a color this self- proclaimed tomboy and farm girl owned before March 2007, but that quickly changed with two little words: "It's cancer." "I was 49, turning 50 and planning to retire that June," she quietly reminisces. After 30 years in law enforcement, 14 with Green County Sheriff's Department and the last 16 with Dane County Sheriff's Department, Kamholz was ready for the next phase of life. "I had a friend over for supper one night," she continues. "When we were done he gave me a big hug and it was painful, like my breast was bruised." A mammogram a week later showed an area of con- cern, which prompted a needle biopsy, and finally the unexpected diagnosis. Cancer-free for four years, retired Dane County Sheriff Joan Kamholz is ready to show the world how one woman can make a difference By Emily Leas Photographed by Melissa Austin "There's really nothing from a career in law enforcement or oth- erwise that prepares you for those words…'it's cancer.' It blew me away," Kamholz says with clear, dry eyes and a quiet strength that comes from 30 years in a career that requires a steely resolve. "I told my doctor that, well, this is just a speed bump and I'm going to get over this and get on with life," she recalls with a couple of emphatic nods of her head. After a lumpectomy showed there may still be cancerous cells left behind, Kamholz slowed down for the first time. "That was probably the hardest time I had because I was think- ing, 'No, no, that's not what I said; I'm going to be OK,'" she says with a wry laugh. Kamholz opted for a mastectomy rather than chemotherapy, be- cause, after all, she had things to do. And once she healed from the painful surgery, and had gone through with her retirement, she wasted no time in getting back into action—albeit in a brand new way. "I decided I needed to get involved with Susan G. Komen For the Cure and do more," she says matter-of-factly. "So I met with Michelle [Heitzinger, the executive director] at the Madison office and told her I just want to help."

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Brava - October 2011