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Tallahassee Couple Goes Public With Their Breast Cancer Battle In Hopes Of Inspiring Others

Man in black police uniform with pink accents stands smiling with a smiling woman in a pink shirt.
used with permission
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare
Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell and his wife Kim Revell

Many Tallahasseeans have fought cancer and lived to tell the tale, but one of the Capital City's more prominent couples is using their encounter with the illness to bring comfort and inspiration to others.
Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell said the memory of what happened to his wife Kim remains fresh and frightening.

"She just knew something wasn't right for a while. And then trying to figure out what that was. Eventually, she was at vacation bible school and felt a lump; just reached under to adjust her bra innocently and felt something that didn't feel right and it went from there."

Kim Revell picked up the story from there.

"The day I was standing in vacation bible school was the first week of June in 2019. I made an appointment with my gynecologist to have it checked. We had to go through ultrasound, biopsy and then results of the biopsy. So, from the day I found it to my surgery day was about a month and a half."

For both Revells, the news hit hard.

"Of course, you're terrified! I was terrified and I know she was as well. And just the shock of, 'Wow! This is really happening!' But for Kim and I, our faith is very, very important and we knew we had to trust God in the moment," Chief Revell recalled.

For Kim Revell, what happened next was a whirlwind of activity, most of it at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center.

"Everyone was there holding my hand, answering my questions, and moving me as fast as they could. I was in the process of reconstruction when the pathology came back. The plastic surgeons were like 'boom, boom, boom. Let's get this part done so you can start chemo.' And we started that really quickly and everything was just wonderful."

But after the surgeries and the medical follow-ups are over, an uneasy, persistent question occasionally asserts itself. What if the cancer returns? Chief Revell was the first to address that worry.

"We have very close friends who have had reoccurrences with family members and are dealing with that currently. So that's something Kim and I certainly...it's in the back of our mind dealing with that. But again, we just try to focus on what we can do right now to help others and to lift others up and not focus on ourselves."

Although Kim Revell was quick to admit she had an emotional response to her situation that surprised her.

"Everybody when they hear the diagnosis goes through the stages of grief where you question, 'Why? Why me?' What I didn't expect at the end was, I was healed, God got me through this. But I didn't expect the survivor's guilt."

That guilt, she said, was primarily sparked by the 2014 breast cancer death of Joanna Francis, co-founder of the Living Well Foundation and a vacation bible school colleague.

"When I look at Joanna and why did Joanna not survive and I did survive, it gives me drive and I want to reach out for that purpose of why I did survive."

This is why she and her police chief husband are offering up their experience as a possible template. An example of how others who are afflicted with cancer or other life-threatening circumstances, might survive and even thrive.

"My advice would be to just look around and see what other people are going through and just keep things in perspective as best we can. It doesn't mean that our problems aren't big to us and they are because they're our problems no matter what they are. But when we can keep that perspective, it certainly helps us get through that journey," counseled the chief.

That personal journey, by the way, is one that will be taken by 1 in 2 American women at some point in their lifetime. For men, it's 1 in 3.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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