Keeping Spirits Up

You can’t get through this alone. You have to have hope and keep positive.

By Kathleen Swift

No diagnosis of breast cancer is typical. Each person has their own story, but for Kelly Evans, the experience falls into what her doctor described as very rare.

Kelly first noticed a lump in her breast and thought it might be a spider bite, so she visited the walk-in clinic June 22, 2016. The doctor there knew it was much more than an insect bite and biopsied the lump. Kelly was referred to a physician who confirmed the lump was indeed breast cancer.

“I was told I had stage 3 breast cancer and had a port placed on July 19,” said Kelly. “I began getting the red devil chemo treatments on July 20. It is one of the strongest cancer drugs you can receive, and it often knocks people on their butts.”

After two rounds of the red devil, Kelly had a most unusual experience. Her cancer mass ulcerated and came to the surface. She explained, “I was taking a shower, and the mass just fell out into my hand. I showed the mass to my husband, and we thought it looked like a piece of brown cauliflower. I showed it to the doctor, who confirmed that it was my tumor.

“I continued to take an additional six rounds of the red devil, and the place where the tumor had been healed over. I then had six rounds of Taxol and finished my chemo on November 30, 2016. I finished my radiation on March 17, 2016.”

But the treatment for Kelly’s breast cancer wasn’t over. Breast cancer runs in her family and claimed the life of her niece, who was 31, as well as that of her sister, who was 57 at the time of her death.

“I was 57 when I was diagnosed,” said Kelly. “Thirty days after my chemo ended, I had a double mastectomy. The doctor asked if I wanted reconstruction surgery, and I told him no. They (breasts) don’t mean that much to me.”

Two years have passed, and Kelly’s PET scans have all come back negative showing that she has no cancer.

“I have another PET scan in October, and I expect it to be negative, too,” said Kelly.

“A lot of people get sick from the chemo and radiation, but I never did. I lost my hair on the red devil, and my fingernails fell out when I had the Taxol. I had 30 rounds of radiation, but my hair grew in thick and curly. I still have the chemo curl,” chuckled Kelly.

Kelly feels lucky to have had support from her family and especially from her husband, Jack.

“He was right there with me for every treatment. He cooked for me and made me eat even when I couldn’t taste anything and didn’t want to eat. He made me all kinds of pies and spoiled me.”

Kelly is paying forward the support and help she received during her treatments. She volunteers helping cancer patients by visiting with them and giving encouragement.

“I also make turbans for those who lose their hair. I couldn’t afford a $30 turban, so I made my own. Now my mother-in-law and I make turbans and give them to others who may need them,” said Kelly. “You can’t get through this alone. You have to have hope and keep positive. Sometimes you need others to help you stay positive. I want to be there to help people keep their spirits up.”