Living and Loving Life, One Step At A Time…

KelleeS01wKelly Southern is a vibrant 45 year old mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, friend who loves life and lives in Silver Spring, MD. She loves to read, dance and spend time with her family. She has 3 beautiful children: 2 boys ages 26 (Glenn) & 22 (Joshua) and 1 girl (Angelique) age 15. She has been married to her  best friend (Alvin) for 24 years. Her family is the most important thing to her and it’s the little things in life that make her happy, like laughter. When she hears them laugh, she is happy. Here she shares her story about her journey with breast cancer…

Kellee and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I received the shocker of my life in 2 parts. The first news came on my 45th birthday on Dec. 27, 2012 as I was told in my follow-up diagnostic mammogram that I have a lump that they were very worried about and I needed to get a biopsy as soon as possible. The doctor’s expression told me everything at that point, but I followed through the process of getting the first biopsy on my right breast only to receive the news on Jan 8, 2013, that I had Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Right Axillary Lymph Node Metastatic Carcinoma and later tests also showed it in my Internal Mammary Lymph Nodes.

So after many doctor appointments and tests (BSGI, stereotactic biopsy on left breast, echocardiogram, PET/CT Scan), it was decided that my treatment plan would go as follows: chemo for 18 weeks (6 rounds, 1 every 3 weeks), mastectomy, radiation.

All of this information crowded into my little brain was serious information overload….WOW! Everything was moving so fast. Too fast. So many people were giving me information, sharing their stories or a story about somebody they knew. I was googling like I never had before. I was drained and getting depressed from everything I was reading and hearing.

My chemo started on Jan. 25 and I went with my Team (hubby, mother, BFF, and a bunch of prayer warriors praying for me and sending me texts to keep my spirits up). Everything went fine, seemed easy. I was like, I got this. And then about Day 4, everything went downhill. I stayed in bed (when I wasn’t running to the bathroom) for 3 days, got dehydrated, ended up back at George Washington Hospital in DC to get an IV………. WOW………I have to do this 5 more times……I CAN’T!!!!

I cried and cried. I was really scared. Then my husband (who is a sports coach), came and sat at the bedside and gave me a pep talk that I so needed. When he finished, I prayed and asked God for direction and to please help me through this. I am no longer in control (because I thought I was in control of my life…LOL) and I need help, because I can’t do this alone.

Little did I know that folks were looking at me and telling they were inspired by me???? Who me??? I am an emotional wreck, sad, happy, confused….They admired my honesty and willingness to share (FB and my blog) WOW…..who knew…….

And then I knew God had answered my prayer. He wanted me to share/testify while I am going this journey, because somebody will be touched and as I also found out, it was therapeutic for me. So I share everything, every appointment, every time I feel ill….LOL maybe too much info sometimes!

So at this point, I am have completed chemo & had my surgery and have started radiation. I love to spend time with my family as we always did and keep it moving. My “road dawg” who is my beautiful 14 year old baby girl Angelique keeps me going. I look at her and I know I have no choice but to fight and survive. She stands strong by my side and she gives me strength to keep moving. My faith is restored as I am starting to meet the real me (raw and uncensored) and I like her. I have no choice but to keep it real and just be me and share my story in hopes that someone going through the same thing or any battle in life will be inspired to keep going. Every day will not be a good day, but rest assured this too will pass.

I plan to celebrate each milestone and the first celebration was walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on May 11 in DC. This was the weekend after I completed my full chemo treatments. Me and “Team Butterfly”, celebrated, laughed, cried, walked, ran and had a good time on May 11 celebrating my first milestone on this journey!

On June 6, I had a bilateral radical mastectomy and the 1st phase of breast reconstruction and came out with flying colors and all margins CLEAR!!!! I celebrated with my family at a summer concert.

So now I work my way through 6 weeks of radiation. I’m still keeping the faith and the positive attitude. As one of the nurses said to me, “There is a light at the end of this tunnel and it is not an oncoming train”.

Update:  Radiation was finally completed on Oct. 18 and I almost made it to the end without any burns, but low and behold during the last week, my skin began to burn badly. The doctor provided me with a soak which dried it pretty quickly. So now that radiation is completed, I am looking forward to my skin totally healing and scheduling Part 2 of my reconstruction surgery. This will take place hopefully in March 2014.

My 46th birthday is coming and the plans for a Celebration of Life are underway!!! I will have all my family, friends and people who have supported me through this last year in attendance and I am looking forward to a great time dancing, laughing and celebrating life.

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6 Responses to “Living and Loving Life, One Step At A Time…”

  1. birdofparadise67 Says:

    Beautiful story of courage in the face of uncertainty, determination and fearlessness. I am so proud of you, Kellee! Moving on…..

  2. Helen Says:

    your story brough tears of joy to me . prayers for you for a full recovery . My Husband was tole Jan 2012 he has prostate cancer 2 days later we were told it had mastized to his bone . we went to Duke tried all kinds of treatments . now he is in Hospice with only days or hours , I know what you are going thru and wish you all the best stay strong love and prayers I send to you , and will keep you on my prayer list , For God can work wonders

  3. Anonymous Says:

    You are truly an amazing person and you inspire everyone around you – so proud of you and god really do wonders
    You are my hero
    Tara Rooplal

  4. Arlene K. Says:

    Kellee,
    Your story continues to bring tears of determination, strength, courage and most of all faith into my life! Your journey has touched each and every person who reads your story. I am glad we had the opportunity to work together, reconnected and remain friends. Continue to be you “Kellee Southern!” Love ya!

  5. Shannon Moneymaker Says:

    Kellee,

    You are truly an inspiration to all who know you or read your story. We are thankful to have you in our life. Your smile is infectious and your determination is remarkable! Keep doing what you do, Kellee! You are a hero to so many!

    -Shannon and Marshall

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