Sharing the Gratitude
As we enter the Holiday season, I am reminded of all that we have to be grateful for, today and always. Coming off the heels of 'Breast Cancer Awareness' month, I'm also reminded of the strong and courageous women who have faced breast cancer head on. You’re truly heroes!
Cancer is a disease that can have a long-lasting effect, not only on the survivors but also on their loved ones. I have so much admiration for all the women who have fought this horrific disease. Breast cancer can be devastating, no matter the circumstances. I hope we can keep the dialogue going year-round — not only during October!
My name is Kim Highfield and I am the owner of SportPort™ Active. I am grateful for the opportunity to share how breast cancer literally changed my life -- forever! I am not alone in saying that breast cancer affects everyone involved --- survivors, families, and loved ones. Simply put, cancer sucks! We all have our own experiences in how breast cancer affects us. For me, I chose to build a company around it.
This is my story.
My Introduction to Breast Cancer
My introduction to breast cancer began in the early 1980s — I was 19 years old and had recently graduated from high school. I recall being overly excited about being out of school and starting a new chapter in my life; it was definitely a monumental time.
That same year, my mother retired after 20 years working at the Indiana State Office Building for the Attorney General. My mother was a beautiful woman and loved by so many. She instilled in me the importance of working hard. I always admired that in her. My mother worked full time while raising three amazing children (if I do say so myself!). She was looking forward to living out her best life with her high school sweetheart, and best friend: my father. She was 46 years old and ready to begin her next chapter of life.
How quickly things changed.
I remember that day so vividly — she had found a lump in her right breast. It was a fairly small lump, and in my teenage mind, how bad could it be? If my memory holds true, her doctor scheduled a lumpectomy right away, and she was in surgery that same week. It all happened so quickly. I remember thinking at the time that it wasn’t a big deal; it was only a small “knot-type” thing on her chest. There wasn’t much data available or technology for that matter! Google didn’t exist, so access to resources and information was limited, and in some cases, non-existent.
In the early 1980s, the medical community lacked the skill set and knowledge base that are basic routine practices today. We are very fortunate to have technology available to us today.
In 1981, the newness of breast cancer was still being observed. Oncologists weren’t sure of proper protocols for breast cancer (i.e., checking the lymphatic system in case cancerous cells metastasized).
That being said, things with my mother progressively worsened from there. Surgeons removed her tumor without any issues, but without follow-up appointments, they had no idea if the cancer had even spread. Breast cancer wasn’t a “thing ” then, let alone cancer prevention! (Remember, it wasn’t until 1985 that Betty Ford brought breast cancer to the forefront).
As tragedy would have it, another lump appeared a few weeks later in the same area, only this time, it was larger and more aggressive. It was terrifying news. The doctors immediately went into hyper-mode and performed a mastectomy. During that surgery, they discovered cancer had spread to her lymph nodes; as you may know, this is the worst prognosis, and no technologies were available to combat such aggressive cancer cells. We knew the worst was to come, but we fought hard as a family.
For six years, she was constantly undergoing chemotherapy drips, radiation, and a ton of experimental treatments. A few months after her first mastectomy, they removed her other breast to be on the safe side. Eventually, they had to place a portal in her chest since the exhaustive chemotherapy had destroyed her veins. Portals were brand new and just entering the marketplace (so to speak). In case you’re not familiar with portals — (in layman’s terms), it’s a small device placed under the skin to administer injections instead of using the veins. The chemo treatments were so brutal they soon disintegrated all of her veins, to put it bluntly. Since my mother’s timing was off in being born in the “Pre-Technology” era, she had to endure all of the experimental type treatments and procedures, many times with interns performing treatments on her – essentially ‘practicing’ on her. We found that to be very aggravating and disappointing, to say the least!
My mother’s generation forged the way -- treatments and procedures were perfected, and many are still used today.
After what seemed to be a lifetime of fighting, my dear mother lost her battle with breast cancer. She fought it hard for six long years. She was 51 years old when she died. It’s still painful to recall all of the horrific struggles she endured. The sad part is had she been born a decade later, she likely would be alive today. There were only a few options for chemotherapy drugs, whereas today there are hundreds of treatment options available.
Oncologists’ hands were tied, and they had limited resources from which to choose. Even radiation had not been perfected yet, and it was so antiquated it targeted a wide area of the skin, not just the tumor.
I recall times when my mother’s entire chest was black as coal from the intense radiation in an attempt to burn the tumor away. It even smelled like burnt flesh; it was very, very sad.
Looking back now, everything in my life changed after breast cancer and was the impetus for life altering changes. Being exposed to the horrors of cancer at such a young age was convincing enough for me to do a complete shift to eat clean, avoid toxins and live a healthy lifestyle. I guess there is a silver-lining in everything, if you look hard enough! I have been living this lifestyle for over four decades!
The Genesis of SportPort
After six years of seeing my mother struggle, I found the experience so impactful that I developed a patent to protect the breasts and launched an athletic apparel company with the patented technologies. SportPort’s name literally means sport gear with a pocket (or port).
I filed my patent in 2011. I started my research on cell phone radiation in the mid-2005, although there wasn’t a lot of data available since cell phones weren’t a “thing” yet. The topic gained momentum, though, and all the news stations were talking about it. The New York Times, in 2010, wrote an article, “Should You Be Snuggling With Your Cell Phone?" focusing on the dangers of sleeping with your phone and placing your phone next to your skin! It became severe enough that the World Health Organization (WHO) got involved.
It was as early as 2001-2005 when brain tumors were being diagnosed in people that used their cell phones all day (i.e. consultants, realtors, salespeople, stock brokers, etc.), basically business professionals who used their cell phones for hours on end. Cell phones became mainstream in the late 1990s; therefore, it took several years before brain tumors were brought to the forefront. I quickly noticed my cell phone was so hot at times that it burnt my ears. I found that to be very scary. I actually started carrying my phone tucked in my bra to avoid burning my ear. That was before the media began to report the hazards of carrying your cell phone in your bra. At the time, it seemed to be a great trade-off, freeing up my hands and not exposing myself to brain cancer. Remember, this was over fifteen years ago, ‘Airbuds’ didn't exist and smartphones were approx. 4" in length -- smaller than an average hand, so the phone was easy to tuck away.
As news stories grew regarding cell phone radiation and cancer, I became worried about carrying the cell phone against my skin. All the new breast cancer cases in younger women caught my attention as early as 20 years old! Yikes!
It was a phenomenon — millennials were tucking smartphones inside their bras, and tumors started showing up! There was story after story of breast tumors developing in the same spot as the cell phones. Not only that but the particular type of breast cancer was being diagnosed. It was the same type found in middle-aged women! It caused alarm in the medical community that women in their 20s are getting cancer. Although cancerous tumors always find it challenging to prove their origin, doctors can only speculate, but strong evidence points towards cell phone radiation. Of course, the negative allegations only forced cellular companies to push back. They tried to deny any such thing, but eventually, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) forced cellular companies to print the dangers of cell phones in their manuals. It may be hard to find (for obvious reasons), but it's there if you look hard enough!
With breast cancer running strongly in my family history, I quickly took action and stopped carrying my cell phone inside my sports bra. That's how SportPort was developed, out of pure necessity. I was determined to have a safe way to carry my cell phone during workouts. I spent two years in Product Development, creating the first sports bra with a cell phone pocket and EMF protection. After several prototypes and massive financial investment later, I had the perfectly designed sports bra with a cell phone pocket (or port) and Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) shielding that protects from cell phone emissions.
After a decade, SportPort has grown into a full line of timelessly designed collections that are all custom designed. My attention to detail is what sets us apart. I am obsessed with every little detail of the garment. I manufacture also my own designs to ensure they are perfectly constructed and one of a kind. I have included SportPort's patent protection in our leggings, jackets, sports bras, and tank tops.
As long as SportPort exists, it's my commitment to EMF protection and beautifully designed garments! "The greatest gift you can give to your loved ones is protecting yourself!"