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Political Reporter Takes on Cancer Publicly

AP Political Reporter Meg Kinnard looks out the second story window of her Blythewood home as she shares her fight to get the right breast cancer diagnosis in hopes of helping others.
Victoria Hansen
SC Public Radio
AP Political Reporter Meg Kinnard looks out the second story window of her Blythewood home as she shares her fight to get the right breast cancer diagnosis in hopes of helping others.

Light cascades across Meg Kinnard’s face as she stretches out beside a second story window in her Richland County home. Her skin glows beneath a colorful scarf wrapped elegantly around her head.

There’s no sign of Kinnard’s signature long, black hair. She is a well-known political reporter for the Associated Press.

“We talk as reporters about how as long as your name doesn’t appear in the body copy of the piece then you’re doing okay because the story is not about you,” says Kinnard.

Kinnard’s Story

But this story is about Meg Kinnard and a journey she unknowingly began four years ago.

“I was doing a personal breast check and I found something that felt like a very small pebble in my left breast.”

So, Kinnard got her first mammogram at age 36. Doctors diagnosed the lump as a calcium deposit that would likely go away. But it did not. Kinnard says it grew larger and the skin around it began to change.

Radiologists continued to monitor the mass with regular mammograms. They did not recommend a biopsy until February of this year.

That’s when Kinnard got the results from a woman she’d never met. She had stage three breast cancer.

“That phone call knocked my socks off,” says Kinnard. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

The Diagnosis

The now 40-year-old kept composed on the phone then collapsed on her bed. She didn’t want to tell her husband who was in the shower getting ready for work.

“I remember thinking how horrible I was going to feel to ruin his day,” says Kinnard. “I just wanted more time before this took over our lives.”

Kinnard’s husband assured her they would fight cancer together and told their three children.

“His ability to just assure me that there was no possible outcome but a positive one from the get-go was more powerful than anything I could have anticipated.”

In March, Kinnard began chemotherapy and continued to work, breaking news stories, even as powerful chemicals pumped through a port visible just beneath her skin.

Kinnard also armed herself with a reporter’s trademark weapon, information.

Second Opinion

She travelled to Texas to get a second opinion from the renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She had hoped to confirm her diagnosis of non-invasive ductal carcinoma. Kinnard learned instead she has inflammatory breast cancer; aggressive and rare, and in parts of her body previously tested.

“That blew my mind,” says Kinnard. “I’d already been poked and prodded.”

Kinnard has been keeping a journal about her experiences. She shares an entry from March 25th. It reads, “No one wants to hear they were misdiagnosed but when you hear it from the best cancer doctors in the world it really doesn’t seem so bad.”

Kinnard now travels to Houston every couple of weeks. That’s where she will temporarily move to undergo a double mastectomy and radiation once chemotherapy in South Carolina is complete.

Shared Hope

This typically private reporter is sharing her story on social media, urging people to ask questions and advocate for themselves. She wants them to know breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can strike at any age. Mammograms and self-exams like the one she performed can be lifesaving.

“I shudder to think what could have been happening in my body and how long it would have taken me to finally know.”

Kinnard says she’s been overwhelmed by the responses she’s gotten to her social media posts, many from complete strangers. She’s tried to provide support for people in similar circumstances but has found comfort too.

“That realization of how many good people there are has been astounding.”

Kinnard flips through her journal overflowing with bright, pink ink. She’s grateful for the fears she has faced and the mundane moments that now feel extraordinary.

“Lots of blank pages to fill up,” says Kinnard.

Each page turned holds promise for a new day.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.