Bel Air resident and WUSA9 sports anchor Kristen Berset should be basking in wedded bliss.
Instead, a month after getting married to Comcast SportsNet reporter and anchor Brent Harris, she announced she was temporarily leaving work to battle breast cancer for the second time in eight years.
Berset reminded viewers in January about her past battle with breast cancer before sharing her latest diagnosis.
“It appears the celebration was short-lived, as I have been diagnosed with breast cancer again,” Berset said from the WUSA9 anchor chair. “The prognosis is great. But it will require me to step away from the anchor desk for several weeks as I undergo surgery and treatment.”
The 35-year-old Bel Air resident and former Fox 45 reporter and anchor found out a week before Thanksgiving through a call from her doctor. She was in Miami at the time, checking on her wedding dress.
“I never thought I would hear those four dreaded words… let alone hear them a second time,” she wrote in a Jan. 16 Facebook post. “You have breast cancer.”
Berset has been on leave from her anchor duties since making the announcement as she receives treatment at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
“The last couple weeks have been rather tough. Every day it’s another appointment and another scan,” Berset told The Baltimore Sun, adding that the past couple of weeks she’s been weighing her options between receiving radiation or chemotherapy and radiation.
As with many patients, there's no clear reason Berset got cancer. Genetic testing shows that she does not have the genes that specifically indicate breast-cancer risk.
In 2009, She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. She opted to undergo a bilateral mastectomy “in hopes of lowering my risk of getting breast cancer again.”
She was declared cancer free two years ago.
Yet, “There’s never a guarantee,” she said.
Even though she's been through the rigors and challenges of battling the disease, the second time around seems different.
“Why does this round seem more difficult?" she pondered. "You’re older and you have a lot more going on.”
Berset expected to have started treatment last week. But additional tests and scans have delayed that process.
“We want to make sure the i's are dotted and t’s are crossed before we decide what to do,” she said.
The series of tests, scans and shots have taken their toll. Her right arm, she said, is bruised from the series of shots she’s received the last three days.
And this week there was another potential setback.
“They found some weird spots on my vertebrae,” she said, adding that the CT scan she had showed some unusal spots on her spine. “It’s a been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster.”
And there’s the detail about her May honeymoon to Italy.
“If we do chemo, we’ll have to postpone the honeymoon,” she said. “If we do radiation, we can sneak it in.”
Other things have been jeopardized by her diagnosis.
Berset and her husband had been talking about having children together. Now there is uncertainty to that timetable or whether that is a possibility. Berset is in the process of freezing her eggs.
“We’re both kind of unsure, and we’re trying to plan our lives,” she said. “Our honeymoon fund has become a fertility fund.”
One unwavering constant throughout this whole process has been Harris’ support, according to Berset.
“He’s been a rock,” she said. “It was all kind of a shock for both of us. He comforts me. He’s gone to every appointment that he can.”
Co-workers have also pitched in, providing meals on weekends and accompanying her to appointments.
“The outpouring of support has been very humbling and very helpful,” she said.
Harris, an anchor and reporter for Comcast SportsNet, first met Berset five years ago, when the two were co-emcees at the Ulman Cancer Fund Blue Jeans Ball in 2012.
“I guess I’d say it’s not something you can really plan for,” Harris wrote in an e-mail to The Baltimore Sun. “Kristen started to go through this as we were getting ready for our wedding, so there have been a whole host of emotions.”
Humor has been an occasional coping mechanism for the two.
“We kid each other ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,’” Harris wrote. “I just want to be her support, be her rock.
“She is amazingly strong and a really positive person,” Harris wrote. “I’m really glad she can share her story.”
Berset wants to continue to spread awareness and encourage people to be more vigilant in their own health care.
“We have this great platform,” she said. “If I can be of help in any way, I’m happy to have my story out there. I’m blessed in that way.”