Kelly 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”.