Norfolk café owner shares story of surviving breast cancer

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Posted at 9:08 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 22:29:07-04

NORFOLK, Va. - For seven years, Kim Keene has been the creative, culinary curator on Colley Avenue.

“There’s good energy in this place,” Keene told News 3. “I have a passion for art and food.”

The artist behind Starving Artist Café.

“I graduated with an art degree, and my father was always like, ‘What are you going to do with that? How are you going to make it?'” Keene said. “So I’m still, at my age... I’m trying to prove that I can survive with that art degree.”

While she has fun with colors, this month, she’s focused on one color in particular: Pink.

That's because five years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was all from a routine checkup,” she said. “It’s like a shock. You don’t really believe that it has happened to you.”

“If I had not gone in for that routine checkup, I would’ve never have known,” she added.

But today, she's five years cancer-free.

“It makes a huge difference, I believe, in catching it all early,” Keene said.

She’s also focused on raising awareness.

“I end up meeting so many people that end up having had cancer,” she said. “It does give you that connection.”

Meanwhile, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University are focused on breast cancer research with help from funding from the American Cancer Society.

READ: News 3 Anchor/Reporter helping fight breast cancer through the Real Men Wear Pink campaign

“It’s necessary,” VCU Associate Professor Dr. Senthil Radhakrishnan said. “Without it, we cannot survive.”

These studies include looking at alternative treatment to triple negative breast cancer, as well as patient care and intervention, especially among African American women.

“You need better treatments for this disease, triple-negative breast cancer,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

“We’re hoping that this intervention approach will improve uptake of systemic therapies, such as chemotherapies,” VCU School of Medicine Professor and Hampton Roads native Dr. Vanessa Sheppard told News 3. “The immediate benefits, just from sometimes participating in the study, is not only do participants get sort of access to maybe state of the art information, state of the art technologies, but sometimes they also learn about things that they can change in their sort of immediate life and surroundings.”

Meanwhile, back in Norfolk, Keene is focused on painting a picture of good energy and hope.

“It definitely makes you live life to the fullest, because you just never know,” Keene said.