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A Profile of Hope: Kelly W. Story

In the words of Kelly, diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2003, and a founding member of the North Carolina chapter


Kelly

I had envisioned my twenties to be full of "life's big changes"; getting married, maybe even having children of my own. Battling cancer wasn't on the list. Cancer is a word nobody wants to hear, much less at the age of 25. I was in the shower one day and felt a mass on my neck. Almost one month later I felt the area again and decided I would have someone else give me their opinion. I went to an urgent care doctor on my way home from work. The physician on duty asked me lots of questions and looked at the area on my neck.I asked her what she thought it was, she told me that it could be a goiter, an enlarged node, or possibly "CANCER."

On March 7th 2003, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. To me, this diagnosis meant I was going to be a sickly person with no energy to keep up with the everyday world. I couldn't believe the morning following my first treatment that I still felt like Kelly Wilson. My treatment consisted of six rounds of ABVD. I responded very well. I credit this to my oncologist. He made the entire process positive. I continued with work throughout my treatments. I did lose most of my hair. The rest I shaved off. Life went on as normal, minus the every other Friday treatment, bi-weekly shots and the newly added stress of deciding which bandana best matched my outfit! Following chemo, I had 19 sessions of radiation which wasn’t as bad as I envisioned. I did get a sore throat, but plenty of soup and hot chocolate made that bearable!!

How I became involved with LRF

I am often asked how this experience has changed my life and I can honestly say it is the small things that I notice, like no longer being scared of swimming in a lake, scary movies, a NY strip steak that is still mooing in the middle, and sleeping with all the lights off. On a grander scale, I am a more passionate person. Some survivors want to move on and forget their personal battles. I do not want to ever forget that I am a Cancer Survivor. Once my treatments were over, I needed a way to continue to be involved. I began to train for a marathon to raise money for research. I am co-founder of Giving Galas, which hosts an event to raise money for lymphoma. I am also a buddy in the Lymphoma Support Network, encouraging and supporting others who are newly diagnosed. I even appeared on NBC News with my oncologist to promote cancer care for patients. Most recently, I became a founding member of the LRF North Carolina chapter.

My life now

I feel strongly that young adults diagnosed with cancer are such an important voice for research, fundraising and advocacy. I feel that I have MANY years to contribute and that we will see a cure in the years to come. I want to be a part of that. A friend that I met during our treatments once shared that previous research and fundraising is what has allowed us to be here today. I cannot change the fact that I had lymphoma, but I can choose to further the mission of LRF to eradicate lymphoma and impact future survivors and families in a positive way.

The North Carolina chapter is eager to gain more active members in our area. We completed our first successful Ask the Doctor program and we are so excited to announce our inaugural Lymphomathon to take place on October 22, 2005. I feel strongly that NC is the perfect location for an LRF chapter due to the amazing wealth of education and medical facilities in our triangle. I hope we can gain support from all of the facilities and in return offer them grant money to further research opportunities locally.

Kelly's tips for someone newly diagnosed

  • Understand from day one that Cancer is such a vague general term
  • Possible side effects are just that, possible, don’t worry about all of them, just tackle them as they present themselves, more than likely you won't experience three-quarters of them!
  • Don't believe all you read on the Internet
  • Sign up for a buddy
  • ASK Questions
  • Take someone with you to ALL ofyour appointments
  • Get involved from day one. This puts you in charge, not your cancer
  • Tell your doctor everything
  • Get a second opinion
  • Make sure you have a good rapport with your doctor, if not find a new one
  • Make a list of the drugs and doses you receive and make sure to check and recheck each one before they are administered
  • Share your story

To submit your own story of hope, please contact Sam Rogers at srogers@lymphoma.org.