Kelley was experiencing minor pains on her right side. After a few doctor visits and tests, doctors suspected that she had liver cancer. She underwent a liver surgery and through that, doctors reported she had a rare form of cancer, a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.
“My first reaction was just, ‘we’ve got to get this taken care of.’ Originally I was like, ‘I can fight this, I can do this and we’re going to be aggressive,’” Kelley recalled.
Kelley’s treatment has been a long process. She’s had five major surgeries, radiation and a variety of oral chemotherapy regimens.
Enduring many feelings of frustration and what Kelley calls “scanxiety” has also been difficult. Kelley had to learn to balance the feelings of being ready to battle and wanting to give up. She underwent counseling on death and dying to help combat her depression.
“I feel like I’m now in a really good place where I’ve figured out how to balance the vulnerability and how to pay it forward,” Kelley said.
Having cancer has also changed Kelley’s life in terms of what “normal” means. She doesn’t have as much energy and had to take disability from her job, but she pointed out that the changes aren’t necessarily all bad.
“I try to lead a positive life. I believe that attitude really shapes everything,” Kelly explained. “Look for the good things in each day.”
Kelley’s diagnosis has also helped her step out of her comfort zone and experience life. She completed a half marathon, did some public speaking engagements to share her story and even went kayaking, which was a huge fear of hers. She also enjoys to spend time volunteering.
“It sounds funny to say, but I am almost thankful in a way. I’ve lived more in the last six years than I had in my whole life prior to having cancer.”
Kelley found MyLifeLine.org early in her cancer journey and has used it for a number of purposes. MyLifeLine.org is an important outlet for Kelley to use in telling her story and get feedback and support, which would often help her through a hard day in the hospital.
“For me, I’m leaving a legacy for my kid. He is going to have a book of my journey and my son will know how well I was loved and hopefully at some point understand all that I went through,” Kelley explained.
Kelley’s advice for other’s enduring a similar experience is to surround themselves with good people. “People that can be there to help you, to support you and to shake you out of it,” she said.