ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Kristen Gates is the face behind the mic on 94.9 The Bull's morning radio show. She's up early every morning talking country music, family and life in Atlanta. But a few months ago, Gates' mornings were interrupted by a pain that just wouldn't quit.
"I was having daily headaches," Gates said. Headaches she at first dismissed until they became severe. "I started having these really sharp lightning bolt pains run down my head," Gates said.
By April, those pains became too much, and Gates decided it was time to go to the emergency room. "I was so embarrassed that I'd be saying to them, 'I have a headache' because you know, you think they'll just say, 'Well go and take Advil.'"
After the MRI, Gates finally had an answer.
"When the neurosurgeon came in, he confirmed to my family that there was a ping pong ball sized tumor sitting in the left side of my head," Gates said. For the past five years, she's had a rare form of stomach cancer, so this discovery was tough to hear for her family.
"I remember looking over at my parents, and that's heartbreaking," said Gates. "They're trying to be strong for you, but you could see the fear in their eyes," she said. For Gates though, fear wasn't her initial response. "I was like, "Okay, this is good. Maybe this will make my head stop hurting," Gates said.
The brain tumor was not cancerous, but it still needed to be removed.
"I didn't shed a tear, I wasn't scared, I wasn't worried about the "what if's," and as a cancer patient I've done that for five years," Gates said. "There was some sense of peace, some sense of calm."
Gates then had surgery to get the mass taken out. Her kids, 15 and 19 years old, were by her side every step of the way.
"It makes you look at your kids differently," she said. "Could you love them anymore? Yeah, you can."
And after weeks of healing, Kristen returned to work. Messages of love and support poured in. Now, Gates is using her pain to empower others, and she makes sure to do that with plenty of humor and a lot of truth.
She had her neurosurgeon come into her studio and remove her staples on air all to show viewers that pain doesn't have to be permanent.
"Even if you get news like I did, news that you don't want, it's not a death sentence," said Gates.
And that faith and family can carry even the heaviest weights.
"God goes where god flows, and I believe that," she said.