My cancer center asked me to speak at their Pink Lighting ceremony last night, the day after I finished treatment. Here is my speech. My Story <- Click there to watch. Hello there. My name is Kelly Cantrell. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. And I am an Inflammatory Breast Cancer survivor. It’s been quite a year for me and my family. And while I do not believe things happen for a reason, I believe we have all become better people and so much closer through all of this. Cancer is not easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to walk through. But the lessons I’ve learned and love I’ve gained have shown me that positive things can come out of negative situations. A good friend told me as soon as I told him my diagnosis, Kelly remember this, God didn’t do this to you-He allowed it to happen. And He helped me through it. Through cancer treatment I just wanted to be normal. Whatever that means. I tried to look ‘normal’ so people would treat me that way. I wanted life to be normal and I decided I was going to do what I could to feel that way. As a 29 year old, I didn’t want to feel different. I was very self conscious of the changes cancer brought to my body. I wore shirts that made me feel empowered. I wore and still wear bracelets that I love. I wore wigs, mostly because I didn’t want to feel the pity. ‘Oh poor girl, she must have cancer.’ Although, looking in the mirror at myself with no hair was extremely difficult so I wore wigs for me too. I wanted the outside to see, what a great wife and mother I was trying to be. I wanted to just be me. Cancer makes you question everything. So little did I know, I would find myself through cancer. You may hear other people who have been […]
September 19th. I’ve been dreading this day and looking forward to it at the same time. It’s been like a dark cloud over me and I can’t wait to get past it. This was the day in 2016 that I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It’s a day that changed me forever. September 19th will be the day that a new life started for me. Everything was different. I saw everything differently, did things differently…because I was different. I go back to the moments of that phone call. I remember everything about it. When I answered the phone I was hoping for a upbeat Doctor on the other end telling me everything was ok, but that’s not what I got. He said the words, “it’s cancer”. I’m sure he said other stuff but I crumbled. I remember calling Justin and my mom. I remember falling to the ground and my incredible neighbor picking me up. I just remember being so scared. I immediately thought I was going to die. I didn’t know much about cancer. I always associate it with older people and not being good. While cancer still is never good to get, it does not care how old you are. What I said to every doctor I’ve met and I will continue to make this my goal, is I just want to watch my baby girl grow up. I want to be at her high school graduation; I want to be at her wedding; I want to meet her children, and I will. September 19th, 2014 was the day a doctor told me I was pregnant. After a year of trying, the news was so welcomed and we were over the moon happy. I now hold strongly to the reason we were unable to get pregnant until then was because God knew what was coming. As I was waiting for my doctor to call me last year, I realized the fact about the date. When I figured that out, I kind […]
It’s official, it is my last week in my 20’s. In the last couple years I have been dreading 30. It sounded so old to me. Not being in my 20’s scared me. And then year 29 came about. I wasn’t sure if I would make it to 30, as scary as that sounds. There were many days when I questioned that. Cancer is terrifying but humbling. I am so grateful to be here and so darn grateful to be turning 30! It feels like an honor and I will wear it with pride. I will enjoy every moment and make many amazing memories. I am feeling pretty good and getting back to half normal. Justin has started a new job so we are getting adjusted to that. I have started a million projects at home just to make up for lost time, I suppose. Enjoying every second. Little Miss Savanna is keeping me on my toes allllll day! ha. My birthday is Saturday and I am having a party to celebrate. I want to celebrate turning 30 and being alive! I want to thank everyone that has been there for me on this ride and who continue to support me. So here is your invitation. Come on over! If you want to come, let me know so I can have enough food! The more the merrier. Seriously, come! Celebration time! Here I come 30!! Woo woo!!
Another chapter done in this crazy roller coaster called Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Chemo, surgery and now radiation DONE! Yey! I have some hormone therapy left for a few months and then years of a pill but, the big hard stuff is out of the way! Now just to let my body heal. It’s been through a lot. I’ve learned a lot about food and the body over the last year or so. I learned that I wasn’t being kind to my body before, and I plan to change that. I have been making changes and I hope to make more. It’s a constant battle everyday, but one I intend to take seriously and continue for my entire life. I want to live a long, healthy life. I will do everything in my power to do so! I do believe cancer was a wake up call for me, in a lot of different ways. So, peace out cancer, I never want to see you again, but thanks for how you changed me. Being out of full treatment can be challenging emotionally, but I have great people to help me. I have good moments and crazy moments. Going through the rough times of cancer is super hard but no one can prepare you for after cancer. It is beautiful, amazing, eye-opening and incredible. It is also terrifying, confusing and hard. As jumbled as it is, I’m so very grateful to be alive and able to feel and figure out all of these emotions! The day I finished my radiation, I had some people over to celebrate! It was a long month or so and it deserved a mini-party. My hubby was away training for a new job so he couldn’t make it, but he did make an appearance on FaceTime. 🙂 Thank you all that came to celebrate. I love you all. Support of family and friends helped get me through this and I’ll never be able to thank you all enough! I didn’t get pictures with […]
Anyone who told me radiation was a piece of cake, I have no good words for you. This is not like a bad sunburn. I am not in and out. And dammit, it is not flying by. I hurt. I can’t move my arm correctly. I have to keep my arm up all day so it can breathe and get air. I have a week or so left but it feels like forever. I can’t imagine this getting much worse (although I do know, it could always be worse), I pray it doesn’t. But, you know what? I’m alive. So none of that complaining really matters. Sometimes it is good to get out but in the grand scheme of things, it is helping me so I can watch my baby grow up. It’s helping so I can grow old with my amazing husband. It is helping me, so when I have moments of anger or self-pity, I quickly turn my thoughts around and turn to gratitude. I will continue to say I hate cancer, but I love what it has done to me. I feel like such a better person. I know I am. I love life so much more now. I enjoy the little moments with my girl. I soak in all her craziness and love every second, even rough ones. I see my husband is such a new light. He is so amazing. I won the jackpot with my little family. He has taken such good care of me and Savanna though this journey. I know it has to be hard for him but he has been so great. From taking me to every chemo to just doing the dishes because I’m too tired to do them. Thank you my darling husband. I love you more than words can say. Life has been full of changes this year, and they continue to happen. Good changes, new changes, but all to better us and our lives. I’m excited to see what the future holds […]
Last year, on this same day, I wrote a letter to my daughter on her first birthday. I told her about how much I loved being her mom and how much she meant to me. My love for her has only grown in masses over the year. My hopes for this blog and that letter, is that one day when she is older she will sit down and read everything, as everything I do is for her. I had no idea that in her second year of life she would mean even more to me and literally save my life. I didn’t think it was possible to love this girl more, but I do day after day. She keeps a smile on my face when I am down, and makes me laugh every single day and often. God did not give me a quiet and timid girl. He gave me a strong, vibrant daughter who has so much spunk. She is so full of life and personality. Before the C word hit our family, I knew I loved her with every ounce of my soul. I would cry everyday dropping her off at the babysitters. I hated going to work because that meant I had to leave my baby. All I wanted was to be a stay at home mom. I did not care if that meant not having nice things, or staying in our small house. I just wanted to be with her and watch her grow and teach her new things everyday. Once cancer hit, and I was at home I soon realized I had gotten what I wanted, to stay at home with Savanna. What a horrible way to do it, but nonetheless, I was ecstatic to be with her everyday. Definitely not what I had planned or the way I would really choose to do it but I loved every second with her. It was in these months that I realized my love for her was much, much more than I […]
This girl of mine is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. For the first year and a half of her life I knew I was blessed with her. She has made my life better in so many ways. I know I was put here to be her mommy. I didn’t think I could love her more until September 19, 2016. Since that day, she has been by my side through it all. Good, bad and the ugly. She is my constant partner everyday, every hour, every minute. I do not know how to thank this almost 2 year old enough. She helped save my life, literally. If it wasn’t for her, I would have stayed in bed all day, I would have felt sorry for myself but I didn’t, I couldn’t. She needed me. She got me up when I was feeling bad, she made me laugh when I was sad, she helped heal me. No matter how I felt, my daughter needed me and I wasn’t going to let her down. But maybe it was the other way around, she knew I needed her and she did not let me down. I will forever be grateful to this little spitfire. The girl does not sit still, so she kept me going. She loves me when I’m down and sick, or up and healthy. She loves me with or without hair and with or without boobs. She is constantly checking on mamas boo boos, just making sure I’m ok with a kiss from time to time. I owe this girl my life. It will be my full intention to make hers as full and happy as possible, whatever it takes. I hope one day she will read these posts I write about her and then maybe she will realize what she means to me, even just a little. I love you little Savvy Jo. You are my world!
Well. It’s been quite the week. Thank you to everyone for reaching out and checking on me. Thank you for the flowers, the gifts, the dinners, prayers, everything. Just thank you. I’m so grateful to everyone. I’m grateful to be alive! This surgery was no easy thing. Chopping of body parts is never fun. Especially being a girl and losing your breasts. But I know it was necessary. I know they were the home to my cancer. Now, they are gone. It’s easy to say, oh they were just boobs, you can get new ones! I’ve heard that a lot and while that’s true, It’s not that easy. My cancer is/was different. It was rare and aggressive. Standard guidelines for Inflammatory breast cancer is to wait 2 years for reconstruction. We are hoping that changes soon, but thats what it is now. I struggled with this for quite some time. My doctors all gave me the option to do reconstruction even knowing the guidelines. There’s a lot of reasons for waiting and a lot of good reasons for being ok to go ahead. My mind just couldn’t settle on either decision. So I decided to err on the side of caution and wait. It is not an easy decision. While I do not regret it, it’s still hard to swallow everyday. The physical pain is strong. But the emotional pain from this is so much stronger. I struggle not being able to pick up my daughter or rock her to sleep every night. I can not do regular everyday things right now. It’s hard. It’s temporary, I know this. But right now, it sucks. Today, I’m sad, I’m mad, I hurt in more ways that one, but still grateful. This is going to be a struggle for me for quite some time. I haven’t looked at what is left under the bandages, and I don’t plan on it for quite some time. I just can’t. For now, I will continue to heal knowing the day […]
This week is going to be a big one. It will change my life forever. This whole process has been life changing but this week, it will completely change the way I look and feel. I am having surgery on Wednesday. A double mastectomy. I still can not wrap my head around it, I just can’t. This whole process has been extremely overwhelming, to say the least. The surgery will be about 2 hours from home, so Justin, Savanna and mom will stay in a hotel for a couple days while I am there. I would lie if I said I’m not nervous. I’m a nervous wreck. The reason I’m traveling this far for surgery is for the surgeon. I met 3 different surgeons and he made me feel the most comfortable. While being closer to home would have made things so much easier, I needed to feel good about who was preforming the surgery. He spent a lot of time with Justin and I, and I trust him. It does make a difference in my emotional well being knowing that I trust the doctor. I’m hoping and praying for a quick recovery and to be home soon after. I know any remnants of cancer that may be in there, will be removed and that makes me feel great. It stinks that I have to lose a body part or two, but I will work through it. I will follow surgery with radiation soon after. If you would have asked me 2 years ago what I would do if I had a breast cancer diagnosis, I would have probably said, just chop them off! It’s so easy to say and it makes sense. But I’m here now, and its just not that easy. It’s so extremely emotional. I think I have cried more this past week than I have possibly this whole time, excluding diagnosis week. I’m sure this emotional roller coaster will continue for some time. But with the help of my amazing family and […]
It’s been a few weeks since I had my last chemo. I’m not sure I’ll ever get sick of saying post chemo, I’m done with chemo, oh, I finished chemo a few weeks ago. Feels so good. I’ve been trying to make decisions about surgery and just slowly getting better. I have finally chose my surgeon(that was quite the process and headache) and will meet a plastic surgeon soon to make some more decisions. I have a lot to think about and finalize. Hopefully surgery will be the week after next…I’m still waiting for a final date. I still have to get hormone therapy at the cancer center every 3 weeks until October. There are no side effects to this drug, so it’s ok. And I love the nurses there, so it’s just a time to say hi and thank you. I can say it is a little easier knowing there is no cancer in my body! I’m doing what I can to control that and keep it away. Everything was going smoothly until this week…first Savanna woke up with a fever and awfully stuffy. I took her the doctor and it is really nothing, just some steroids and fever reducing meds. She is slowly coming around. Tricia has been out of commission in the hospital. They are still figuring out all the details of what’s wrong. Fingers crossed they have it and she comes home tomorrow. Then I caught something and was miserable. I’m so thankful for my mom and mother in law. I didn’t even get this sick on chemo. I guess it’s a different kind of sick though. I could barely stand, let alone take care of an almost 2 year old all day. I’m so grateful that my amazing neighbor happened to be in Walgreens at the same time as me and helped me with Savvy and took care of me. Best neighbor ever award. My mother in law took care of Sav so I could rest, thank you so much! I’m starting to […]