Kimmy Fasani is a professional snowboarder, mother, author, and family advocate. She has broken boundaries throughout her career, including competing while she was pregnant. In November 2021 Kimmy was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and has been widely transparent about her journey, remaining an inspiration on and off the mountain. Now in remission, she is continuing to spread awareness about the healing properties of nature and the outdoors. October is breast cancer awareness month and we interviewed Kimmy about her experience.
- Tell us about your snowboarding journey. When did you first get on a board, and when did you realize you wanted to make a career out of it?
I started snowboarding when I was 9 years old and really fell in love with it and the mountains in 1999- after my dad passed away from cancer. Snowboarding became a healthy outlet for me to process that loss.
- In November of last year, after having your second kid, you found a lump after doing a self-breast exam. Can you take us through that moment? What was running through your head?
Last November I was doing a breast self exam, and though I had previously noticed a lump in my breast, which I thought was from breast feeding, during this self exam I felt a pea-sized rock hard bump in my armpit. Immediately I knew something wasn’t right. I told my husband and he urged me to call the doctor. She got me in the next day, and within a few hours they were pretty certain I had an aggressive Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I was in shock and scared. Since I had lost both parents to cancer- this diagnosis made me immediately feel like I was about to fight for my life.
- As an athlete, you’re constantly pushing yourself to be in pique physical condition. How did your diagnosis impact your view of sport, and how important was it for you to get back on the hill?
I am so grateful to have lived a healthy and active lifestyle prior to this diagnosis. I was strong and had the mental tools to get through the aggressive treatment. Finding time to get on snow or even just out for a walk during the months of treatment helped provide clarity for my mind.
- Where did you learn to do a self-check? Can you briefly talk us through the steps?
Thankfully I have been an ambassador for Boarding for Breast Cancer (b4bc.org) for over a decade. I learned how to do a self check by using their shower card on their website, and I also have felt the fake boobs at their tents at events like X-Games.
- We heard your husband, professional skier Chris Benchetler, worked with Burton’s Donna Carpenter and surprised you with a trip to Baldface in BC after your last treatment. What did that trip mean for you?
Snowboarding has always been a passion of mine, and I feel so calm and at peace on my snowboard. When Chris and Donna ( and Jeff Pensiero- Owner of Baldface) surprised me with that trip, I was so excited and moved. Treatment was so gnarly and being able to celebrate the end of chemotherapy with a family trip to Baldface, with some of my closest friends and Burton team riders, was just unbelievable and just what the doctor ordered.
- What do you like best about snowboarding in Canada? What makes Baldface, in particular, so special to you?
I love Baldface because it’s a little piece of paradise tucked away in such solitude. Jeff Pensiero has done an incredible job creating a beautiful playground for winter enthusiasts to enjoy. Every time I show up there, I feel so lucky to be in such a special place.
- Burton has been working with you on a new Kimmy collection and helping to raise money for your foundation, the Benchetler Fasani Foundation. Tell us about the partnership and what it means to you.
I am so grateful for the support Burton has provided throughout my career. They are a rider driven company and they treat their riders like family. This year they went above and beyond to make not only an enormous impact in my life by helping me stay connected to my snowboard, but to have their support and willingness to share my story widely- will hopefully help raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of self checks and early detection. I am also so excited to launch the Benchetler Fasani Foundation (bf-foundation.org / @TheBFfoundation) so we can help others going through hardships connect to the healing properties of nature. Having Burton help us spread the word about this launch is another way they are helping us give back.
- How do you see your journey influencing the next generation of athletes, on and off the hill?
I believe that using my voice to speak up about things that matter, or showing my vulnerability will hopefully have a ripple effect, so the next generation can see that they too can make a difference by being authentic.
- Now that you’ve successfully completed treatment, what’s next for you?
I am looking forward to getting back on snow. But more importantly, I’m learning to take life a little slower. Appreciating the present moment.