Up until a few years ago I had never lost anyone close to me. I didn't know what it was like to go to tell that person something only to remember they were gone. Then all of the sudden I got the surprising news that my aunt had passed away very unexpectedly. Not long after that I received news that my other aunt, my cousin, and two close friends of mine had cancer.
Talk about a few slaps in the face and a reality check. Prayers for each of them poured before the throne of God every day! My friend Lena was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and my friend John had stage 1. My aunt and cousin were told that their cancer was very treatable and most likely they would be able to stop any progression through chemo treatments and trials. So everyone began the painful and long processes of treatment and recovery.
After surgery Lena was downgraded to stage 1 and after a year of treatments she was declared cancer free. My Aunt was also released from treatments and cleared of cancer. Meanwhile my friend John had been going through much of the same. Then one day he discovered what he had dreaded. Another lump. The next few months were a constant struggle for him and cancer took over his entire body very quickly. He passed away 3 months before the one year anniversary of being diagnosed.
Meanwhile, my cousin one of the strongest people I have ever known has continued to fight with cancer. When I think of living life to the fullest I think of my cousin. Through all the ups and downs she has continued to persevere. She has set goals and complete her goals and continues to fight against the odds. The next few paragraphs are a summary of her fight taken from the Dade County Festival of Life Facebook page.
Kelly's life and the life of her family changed forever on March 10, 2011 with a phone call. When Kelly met with her surgeon she was assured that while she had tested positive for cancer in a lymph node under her arm, that it was the "good" kind. Meaning most treatable and highest survival rates. The doctors decided to do chemo first, followed by removal of the tumor and then radiation. Kelly was given a date for port insertion. Chemo began that same day. When the chemo cycles were completed, it was time for a partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection. The lymph nodes tested positive also. So, Kelly began thirty three rounds of radiation treatment, and she made it through.
Kelly was then genetically tested for risk of cancer. The test leaned toward positive but was inconclusive. Because of this, the doctors recommended a complete mastectomy and hysterectomy as precaution. Both surgeries were done at the same time. After surgery, Kelly developed staph infection twice. Kelly fought and survived the staph infections and was on the road to recovery and reconstruction...until one day, within a month of returning to work, she felt a familiar knot. But this time the knot was in her neck and she learned what metastasis meant.
The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes and it was discovered during this chemo that the nodes in the lungs were also involved. One week prior to the graduation of her daughter, Sarah, from high school, Kelly was notified that the cancer had spread to her brain. She was referred to radiation again. Soon after, Kelly began to experience shortness of breath, and the shortness of breath became worse. Kelly had fluid building in her lungs from the nodules growing. Eventually she had a drain placed in her side to allow fluid to be drained off her lungs. Her doctor referred her to Vanderbilt University for a clinical trial. Three months into the trial Kelly was told that the cancer had not only gotten worse in her lungs, but had spread to her spine. As a result, she was dropped from the clinical trial.
Kelly is currently on her 9th type of chemo. She still has the drain, and instead of a port for chemo there is a central access line in her arm. She will have the right lung tapped again for fluid and probably have a drain there too. The cancer has ruined the left lung causing irreversible damage, leaving only limited function. The right lung is getting worse. Kelly now has cancer in her liver, brain, spine, lungs and lymph nodes.
Kelly has a husband, Victor, and they have been married for 20 years. They have two beautiful children Sarah, 19 and Kaden, 8. Kelly worked for the Dade County Department of Family and Children Services for 13 years. During that time she helped many families in the county who had no one else to turn to. Kelly has always been giving of her heart and time, and when you would think she was finished, she would give some more.
When I think of my cousin Kelly, I see strength, I see a willpower to get through whatever comes, I see someone who lives every day as if it was their last, I see someone who is not afraid to say "watch me" and go out and do her best to defy the odds and make something happen, I see someone who is thankful to God for every breath He has given her, I see someone who even on the hard days manages a smile that gives strength to everyone around her. Where most people focus on all their problems, Kelly continues to look to the next goal. Where most people give up, Kelly presses on.
I want to live my life knowing that every day is a gift from God. I want to live every day to the fullest and bring honor to God through all that I do!
Please join me in praying for my cousin Kelly. If you live near dade county Georgia please check out this event and consider going to support my cousin. https://www.facebook.com/dadecountyfestivaloflife
So now get off your butt and live life as if this was your last day on earth, because whatever excuse you have - it is not good enough to not chase your dreams.
Keep Fighting Kelly!!!!!! I love you!