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Kelly’s story

“My story is both a personal one as well as a milestone. On December 14th, I was diagnosed with cancer. On January 5th, I got my specific cancer diagnosis. The official diagnosis? Stage 4 duodenal adenocarcinoma; small bowel cancer. It's a rare, aggressive cancer that mostly effects extremely unhealthy men in their 60's. The prognosis was mind numbing. I was told I may be able to get five more years left to live. Remission was not a common thing; only 5% of patients ever made it to that stage of the diagnosis. So, being a 26 year old woman, it was quite a shock. My whole world was flipped upside down. One minute, I was complaining about normal everyday things; work, lack of money, other stressors that any 26 year old complains about. I took things forgranted. I appreciated the people in my life, but I was so proud of my independence that I could rarely gather up the guts to reach out and ask for help. And suddenly, in a little over 24 hours, my independence was shaken. As a self described "social butterfly", there were weeks where I could barely get out of bed. It was, honestly, the toughest thing I've ever had to go through.

In the past year, I've gotten through five surgeries including a hysterectomy, a blood infection, 12 doses of chemo, a severe allergic reaction to one of my chemo drugs, and a depression diagnosis (something that's very common with cancer patients). I've spent a collective three weeks in a hospital over the course of three different visits. But, in the past year, I've also developed a better appreciation for the things around me, both big and small. I was at the point where, if I didn't reach out for help, I wouldn't be able to get through it. I hung on to every moment that brought me even the slightest bit of happiness. I starting to think about the things I wanted to do in life and I started working on actually doing them. In my head, if I only had five years left to live, I was going to make it so, when I looked back on them, I'd be proud of everything I did. There were days that were hard. There were days that were so hard, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it any more. But, there were days where I had so much fun, and days that I laughed until I cried.

And now, almost a full year later, I've reached the point that seemed unreachable; remission. I've successfully had four months without having a single chemo infusion and nothing has showed up in any of my scans. All my hard work, all the support of my friends and family, it all paid off in ways I can't even bring to words. Of course, my fight isn't over. Actually, I don't think it will ever be completely over. But I've got a game plan that is fool proof. I reach out when I need help. I tell my friends and my family that I love them. I do things that make me happy. I laugh when I'm happy. I cry when I'm sad. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone more and more. I'm working on living a life that I'm proud of. So, no matter the outcome... no matter if I get five years, or ten years, or fifteen, I've already won the battle.”