Friday, July 21, 2017

When Someone You Love Has Cancer

   Let me start off by letting you know that this is not my regular fun blog post. I have thought about what I wanted to say today for over half a year. There really aren’t words to express the combination of love, pride, and sadness that I want to convey but I am going to try.
   How do you express your feelings when someone that you love is faced with cancer? My first reaction was disbelief but that was quickly replaced with anger and extreme sadness. I’m sure that most people experience those same feelings. I don’t know if I would react differently if the person affected were older or lead an unhealthy lifestyle but that is not the case. 
   My beautiful, sweet, funny 28-year-old niece Kelsey was diagnosed with colon cancer in January. How could someone who is just starting their adult life have to face such a cruel diagnosis? It is simple. Cancer has no age limit. Cancer sucks. Cancer is not fair. Cancer is stupid.
   If God only gives his toughest battles to those strong enough to handle them, then he thinks Kelsey has incredible strength. He is right. I’d like to tell you a little about her so you can understand what she has been going through over the last year. I think you’ll agree that she is one tough lady.
Sisters are forever friends 
   Kelsey is the younger of my brother’s two daughters. She and her sister Holley are like two peas in a pod. They have always shared everything including their love for cross country running. Holley and Kelsey both excelled at long distance running and participated at the high school and college level. I don’t have a sister for comparison, but these girls are the best examples of sisterly love that I know. 
Cousins are friends that will always love you.
   They are very close in age to my kids so they always had fun whenever we were together. The four of them would laugh until their tummies hurt and did all the silly things that kids do. It was wonderful watching them grow up and stay so close in spite of living in different states. Both girls were bridesmaids in our son’s wedding.
Photo Credit: A & M Cunningham Photography Knoxville, TN.
   In the spring of 2016, our family traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to share in the joy of Kelsey’s wedding. Oh my gosh, she was a gorgeous bride! They chose the Knoxville Zoo as the wedding location and it was a spectacular event. We enjoyed a mini family reunion and made some wonderful memories. It looked like the beginning of a perfect happily ever after her and her new husband.
   That happiness came to an abrupt stop when Kelsey was attacked in broad daylight as she returned to work from her lunch hour. A low-life thug jumped out of his Mercedes and tried to grab her phone and purse. She screamed and fought back with all of her might but was not much of a match for a large muscular member of a well-known gang. He punched her in the face but she continued to put up a struggle. Her screams finally attracted the attention of others who came to help her. The criminal ran but not before his license plate was recorded. Kelsey was left with a fractured nose, a swollen eye and a busted lip along with a case of PTSD. He was arrested a couple of days later for robbing a woman at gunpoint. My niece identified him in a line-up and he is currently being held on a 1.16 million dollar bond.
   For many young women, such a traumatic experience would leave them petrified. Kelsey sought out help for her PTSD, enrolled in a self-defense class and went public with the fact that she was distracted by her cell phone at the time of the attack. She has used her assault to warn others about the dangers of paying attention to your phone instead of your surroundings.
   When I heard of her attack and injuries, I was enraged. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to the people that we love. The sad fact is they do and we are helpless to make it better or take away the pain. Her recovery and positive outlook were nothing short of inspirational but she was about to show all of us what incredible strength and character she truly has.
   A few months after the robbery, Kelsey began to feel tired and nauseous. She thought it was just a stomach bug. When it didn’t pass, she made an appointment with the doctor. They scheduled her for a colonoscopy and that is when they discovered cancer. I don’t know how many of you have received that phone call to tell you someone you love has cancer but there is nothing to prepare you for hearing those words. My heart felt as if it shattered into a thousand pieces.
First Chemo Treatment
   Kelsey faced the diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer and the subsequent surgery with the same positive outlook that she has handled everything in her life. It is that attitude that lets me know she is going to defeat this latest obstacle that life had thrown her in her way. At this point, she is halfway through her chemotherapy and fighting a great fight. There are weeks when she doesn’t feel good but she keeps a smile on her face and never sounds down in the dumps. I don’t know how she does it but she does.
   She and her sister were both diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome. It is hereditary and makes those affected prone to a variety of cancers. They are following the recommendations of their doctors and will have cancer screenings annually for the rest of their lives. Through it all they have remained best friends and lean on each other for strength.
   Holley has returned to the thing they both love and that is long distance running. She is practicing to take part in this year’s New York City marathon in honor of Kelsey. To help fund her trip she has a fundraiser page called “Kelsey Has Stupid Cancer” and is hoping to raise $5,000. They are both participating in the 2017 Nashville Undy Run on August 5th. Kelsey is the team captain and came up with the team‘s name “Strollin’ for Kelsey’s Colon.”
   I could not be prouder of my nieces and want them to know that I love them to the moon and back. I asked their permission before sharing this story and they gave me their blessings along with permission to use their photos. I wanted to let my friends know what amazing young women they are and try to bring awareness to their fight. 
   If you would like to contribute to Holley’s NYC Marathon Run, visit her fundraising page. She also posts updates on Kelsey’s chemo progress. If you are in the Nashville area and would like to run/walk for their team, please visit their team page. Any amount would be appreciated. 
   Kelsey has a bright future and her happily ever after will happen in true fairytale fashion after she destroys the evil beast called cancer.
   It's the Pet Parade Blog Hop!  Join the fun with Rascal and RoccoBionic Basil’s Blogand me. We are open all week so hop in the parade with us!

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60 comments :

  1. I love you, Kelsey!! I am forever proud of the awesome woman you are! ❤️ Excellent post! I will be sharing!

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Jessica. ♥ You are awesome yourself ☺

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  2. your Kelsey is a hero...and we cross our paws and fingers that she can beat this evil big C... hugs and POTP and all our good wishes...
    while reading what happened to her with this stinky attacker we were enraged too... we wish this guy the hottest place in hades once!
    the mama cried while she remembered how she felt as her bff was diagnosted with breast cancer... it was a totally weird moment... her friend was strong and comforted the mama who cried a river... and she still feels shame for that weak moment she had... the bff won the fight and she went through all this hard treatment... and we hope that your Kelsey will bet the evil C like the bff of the mama...

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    1. You are so sweet. ♥ There is definitely a special place in Hell for people like her attacker. I'm glad your Mom's BFF recovered. Cancer sucks!

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  3. What an awesome young courageous woman Kelsey is! I agree with Phenny - you are a hero!

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    1. Thank you so much. She is amazing. ♥

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  4. Gosh, this is such a sad story, but a good lesson that these things can and do happen to people at any time and age. She sounds like a real fighter and we wish her all the best. We will now dry off our leaky eyes and share this post.

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    1. Thank you for sharing our post. Kelsey is a fighter and I will be so happy to post an update to tell everyone when she is cancer-free ♥

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  5. I am so very sorry to hear this news. Thank you for sharing the story of your amazing niece. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as she kicks cancer's butt. Kelsey is a real life Wonder Woman and we hope all the best for her.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am so proud of both of them and I know Kelsey will kick cancer's butt. I'm excited for Holley to run in the NYC marathon too!

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  6. Keeping her in my prayers. My Mom was diagnosed with color cancer in her early 40's. They were able to stop it, unfortuantely she wouldn't quit her 2 pack a day cigarette habit and she died of lunch cancer 14 years later. Kelsey is beautiful and strong, and we're rooting for her to conquer this challenge as well.

    And kudos to the reminder about "heads up". As a federal LEO, I'm juts appalled at all the young women I see walking, sometimes at night, head down at their phone. Many of them are snatched off the street like that, never to be seen again. Good for Kelsey for fighting back.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am glad that she has taken good care of her body so that she can fight this evil cancer. I am so sorry about your mom. Smoking is a hard habit to break. I will be three years smoke-free in August. It amazes me how many people are injured looking at the cell phones. I am heeding her words of experience.

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  7. oh my I have tears and am speechless. I agree, if anyone can fight this evil, Kelsey can (and Holly too). Kelsey is obviously a fighter, I admire her strength and am sending many, many prayers that she will beat this evil disease. ((((hugs)))))

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    1. Thank you so much, Caren. I have complete faith that she will crush this cancer! ♥

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  8. You have a courageous niece! Praying for her to win this battle against cancer.

    Thanks for the reminder to pay attention when walking. So many don't!

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    1. She is so brave! Cancer has met its match with her. ♥

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  9. Oh my goodness Melissa. This is so sad. She is so young. My sister in law was diagnosed a couple of years ago with colon cancer and has adapted to a different lifestyle...grateful she is alive. My heart goes out to Kelsey and your entire family as she battles this terrible disease. I will keep her in my prayers and will share this post. Hugs to you, my friend.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jeanne. Kelsey is very special and I know that she will beat this beast. It is wonderful that your sister-in-law has recovered.

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  10. Your niece Kelsey is a hero ! We cross our paws and hope she will kick the butt of that naughty cancer ! We send her tons of purrs. Purrs

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    1. Thank you so much! She is indeed a hero ♥

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  11. It is so hard to understand why some people have been dealt such a difficult hand. So heartbreaking to have a front seat to someone's pain, especially someone we love who is so young! Praying for strength and effective treatment!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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    1. It was hard to grasp for someone so young to have to deal with such a tough diagnosis. She is a trooper and a fighter. I am a very proud aunt. ♥

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  12. This has brought tears and a whole rush of feelings, being a cancer survivor myself. It is hard on the people who love us. Sending prayers for Kelsey, her positive attitude is a big part of her recovery!
    hugs
    PugRanch mom

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    1. Thank you so much. I am always filled with hope when I think of my friends who have beaten the Big C. ♥

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  13. That must have been a tough piece to write! But often putting things in writing helps you to cope. We hope your lovely niece does well with her treatment and makes a full recovery. Sending lots of POTP and prayers!

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    1. Thank you ♥ As an author, you know how words race around in your head before you can get the down in the order that makes you happy. I mainly wanted to share how proud I am of my nieces and how they are fighting together for Kelsey's recovery.

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  14. Oh dear sweet M.K. bless your heart for writing this tribute to you beautiful niece Kelsey. I am so very very sorry she has had such a horrible year. I don't think I've ever known such strength as you have written about. God bless Kelsey and everyone who is loving and supporting her through this.
    Many hugs and as you see fit I hope you can update us on how she is doing
    madi and mom

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    1. Thank you so much. Everyone's love and support is essential for her recovery. I will definitely keep everyone updated on her progress and Holley's run in New York City's marathon. ♥

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  15. What an incredible young woman. We hope the chemo works. Cancer is horrible.

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    1. Thank you! She is awesome and you are right, cancer is horrible!

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  16. oh my goodness Melissa :( I would say that I can't even imagine what you're going through but sadly, I know it all too well. My thoughts are with you, i'm always here to talk. I love ya girl!!! And omg Kelsey, you go girl!!!! Stay strong! (((HUGS)))

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    1. Thank you so much, Jenna! I know that you have had experience with this and it is never easy. Love ya too!

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  17. Life can be so cruel and unfair and senseless sometimes. You expect these things more in older and unhealthy people, but not in the young and healthy. All we can do is fight on through it all, and I think your niece(s) definitely have that figured out.
    I think it's wonderful that you have shared this story, and my heart is with your whole family.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. I really appreciate it, Janet. Cancer was the very last thing that I thought would be her diagnosis. She is so fierce and is fighting cancer with so much positivity. She is amazing.

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  18. We send a ton of purrs and good thoughts for Kelsey. Given her tenacity...we know she can beat this!

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    1. Thanks! We believe she will beat it too!

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  19. How sad. We are wishing her all the best. Momma knew a beauty blogger who also got colon cancer at an extremely young age (I think she was 26 or so). She beat it and has now been cancer-free for years.

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    1. Thanks! I didn't realize until after Kelsey was diagnosed how many people in their 20's get colon cancer. That is crazy since they don't even recommend colonoscopies until you're 50!

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  20. I'm so sorry for all the battles, and now the biggest of them all, that your sweet niece has faced. We are sending lots of a good thoughts for her as she goes through the rest of the chemo and returns to her amazing life.

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    1. Thanks! She is a warrior and definitely due for some good luck!

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  21. God bless your niece. Life can be so unfair sometimes. I admire her strength through all that she has been through. I will be praying for her.

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    1. Thank you so much. Prayers are always welcome and needed. ♥

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  22. What a strong, brave, and beautiful woman your niece is. I am sending prayers for her treatment and that her cancer will go into remission, and never to reappear again. My thoughts and prayers are with her and your family. <3

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    1. Thank you so much. She has amazed me at how strong she has been through the last year. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. ♥

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  23. Oh my gosh what a brace young soul. Bless her and your family. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your families life, I'll be praying for her. Cancer sucks!!

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    1. Thank you, JoAnn. I don't usually share personal things other than the dogs but this was very important for me to let everyone know what a remarkable couple of nieces that I have. ♥

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  24. Oh My God Melissa, I don't even know what to say. What I do know is that your Niece is clearly an amazing young woman. I will pray hard for Kelsey and for strength for your family.
    Love & Biscuits, extra Hugs & Kisses,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. She is an incredible young woman. 💖

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  25. OMG, what a story. Terrible things really do happen to the very best people. Cancer sucks. My mom was a colon cancer survivor and I'm praying your niece will be, too. Sending hugs and love your way.

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    1. Thank you so much. She is definitely due for some good news.

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  26. Go, Kelsey, go! You can beat this, and with your tenacity and positive outlook, we know you will. Prayers and all good thoughts coming your way.

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    1. Thank you! She is a fighter and we have faith she will beat cancer. Your prayers are appreciated. ♥

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  27. You know, the love and authenticity of Kelsey's story as you have told it are a testimonial to the bond you have as a family. I will gladly support Holley's marathon for Kelsey. I wish you, Kelsey, and all of your family well.
    Also, I have never heard of Lynch Syndrome. Thank you for mentioning it. I'll use the link to learn more.

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    1. Thank you so much, Amy. My nieces mean the world to me and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support for them. We had never heard of Lynch Syndrome until their diagnosis. ♥

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  28. Love, good thoughts and prayers for your niece Kelsey!

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  29. So many hugs and prayers coming out. She is a tough cookie and has an amazing spirit and attitude. Cancer sucks more than the suckiest thing on earth. She is going to beat this big time. Love and hugs for sure.

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Kelsey does have an amazing attitude and we know she will win this battle. ♥

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  30. This brought tears to my eyes. I have also experienced that heart shattering phone call and comforted someone I loved while they went through cancer treatments. No one should have to! She is so brave and strong and lucky to have such a supportive family around her. She'll be in my prayers

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    1. Thank you, Leah. It is impossible to prepare for such a diagnosis. We appreciate your prayers ♥

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