Adam Walker (00:03):
From Susan G Komen, this is real pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room,
Adam Walker (00:16):
A breast cancer diagnosis. Isn’t easy, it’s difficult for the person diagnosed and for the loved ones of that person, often significant support is needed, but difficult to accept my guest on the show today is Kelly right? Kelly has had cancer twice, but through the support of her family and broader community is still here with an upbeat personality and a spirit that just won’t quit. Kelly was willing to say yes to support and community and continues to bring that spirit of support to others. Kelly, welcome to the show. And to start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and share your
Kelly Wright (00:54):
Sure. Okay. My name is Kelly Wright. I currently live in Kennesaw, Georgia. I grew up in North Carolina. My spouse and I’ve been married for over 35 years. We have, I used to say to boys, but now we’ve added a girl and now we have a grandbaby. I manage a flower shop here in Marietta and my husband is the operations director of the Marriott housing authority here in, you know, here, local. Yeah, we just got a grand baby eight months old. So that’s kind of the joy of our life right now.
Adam Walker (01:28):
Fantastic. I love that. I love that. So so let’s, let’s talk about your, your cancer journey. Can you just kind of walk us through kind of the whole spectrum,
Kelly Wright (01:40):
You know, I’m one of these women and there, there are others of me that have put off for many years having mammograms and my husband is of the age where he needed to have his first checkup. And so the joke was okay, if you go get the colonoscopy, I’ll go get the mammogram. And we both agreed and sure enough, I it came back that I had cancer and all of us could not have been more floored, shocked because that really doesn’t run in my family. It was kind of shocking actually cause we were joking about it and turned out I did. So I was diagnosed at 51 in 2017 and then almost to the date a year later it came back it actually came back as a different cancer than the previous cancer, which is extremely rare. So I’m a rare T came back as one was the ductal carcinoma and the second one was a the second cancer was an invasive ductal carcinoma. So very unusual to have two different types of cancer, not unusual to have cancer come back within the two years, but unusual to have two different kinds.
Adam Walker (03:02):
Indeed, indeed. Yeah. Wow. Wow. That’s fantastic. I mean really, really, really interesting. So let’s talk a little bit more about that. So you were, you were diagnosed in 2017, you went through like what kind of treatment did you go through? And I assume that treatment was over and then you got diagnosed again a year later.
Kelly Wright (03:23):
Yeah. So what happens when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer? Obviously there’s, you know, different stages. Mine was we caught very early, which made the whole joke about, you know, colonoscopy and mammogram even better. Cause it was called very early and it was totally caught by mammogram any other way. I never would have known I had cancer. So the first cancer was treated with the lumpectomy to remove the cancer and then chose the option, which is called BRACA therapy. The BRACA therapy is a form of radiation where they implant a device in your tissue that allows Kasita radiation to go right to where the cancer is instead of an overall radiation beam, it’s it takes the, it, it literally is like a seed and it goes right to where the cancer is. Women that choose that treatment. You have a shorter amount of time of treatment.
Kelly Wright (04:25):
It’s basically 10. It was either seven days or 10 days. And it’s to the hospital twice a day to go get the treatment, but you’re done in seven to 10 days versus the station option, which is like, you know, four weeks or something like that. So I chose to do the BRACA therapy that, that go around. I actually named the device ethyl for, you know, Lucy’s friend, Ethel Ethel. Everybody knows Ethel because she was a piece of work experience, but that’s how I chose to do the first time. And then you know, when you’re diagnosed every year required, you’re required. You’re supposed to every six months to have a follow-up mammogram within the first year. It’s the first year or two years. And when I came back for my six month one, it was still okay. But when I came back for the next, the year, that’s when it came back on the the second cancer came back on the other side and like I said, that’s pretty uncommon. Because I had already been through that whole thing. Now I had a better picture of what was coming and I opted the second go around to not do the BRACA therapy because it was evil. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was evil. I chose to do the three weeks instead of the two times a day for 10 days that it, there was so many unknowns about that. And then, then also the place where I knew what that thing was, and I was not doing that again.
Kelly Wright (06:06):
It’s if people look at it’s an evil it’s, it’s just, it’s quite a treatment and it was difficult mentally, physically, it was hard. And I just, I just didn’t want to go through that again. So I chose to do the other.
Adam Walker (06:21):
Yeah, yeah. Wow. That’s I can, I can attempt to empathize, but I can only imagine how difficult that, that must’ve been. So I’m curious about your support systems. You mentioned your husband. Did you say you were married 30 years? Is that right?
Kelly Wright (06:38):
Yeah. Over 30. Yep. Okay.
Adam Walker (06:39):
So married over 30 years, which is amazing. You got, you, you got two, two children, two boys or two, I guess, grown boys. Talk about your support system and, and how, how your family went through this together.
Kelly Wright (06:53):
Sure. When that if some of this has kind of foggy because thankfully God gave women a gift to not remember things because if we did ever have children again, I’m just saying, but some of this is foggy, but when I, when the, when I had that mammogram and they said, you know, they’d tell you right there, they call you in and they tell you there’s something here that needs to be looked at. Then, you know, you got to schedule all what’s coming next. My spouse did go with me to that appointment. So he was there with me when they said this really looks like cancer. We need to do a biopsy. And then he was there when you know, we went back to get the results. My children at the time were college age. So they weren’t, they weren’t in town.
Kelly Wright (07:43):
But when I was diagnosed, the first time our family had been hosting international students and we actually had a Chinese student, young man living with us at the time. So he was here when all that was going on. The, and I’ll say, I always wondered if other women have gone to that appointment themselves, or if they had someone there, when that news is announced to you. Cause it’s pretty, pretty shocking. And also having the second set of ears like, wait, did I hear them say what I think or this or that, but my husband was there and then our two boys, of course weren’t here. But, and when I look back on that, the greatest support system we had was our church family. There’s no way we could’ve done all that was happening. I mean, like I said, we had a kid living here that wasn’t our child.
Kelly Wright (08:42):
They fed us, I mean, car rides, anything they could do. We had, we had women offering to come clean our house. People did our grocery shopping. It was amazing. Say that for both times. I mean, we really, there wasn’t, there really was very little need in this home when that was going on because those women and men, some, I mean, men dropped off meals and stuff. They really stepped up and we were super thankful that we had those folks in our life at that time to get that. So encouraging people to just come here and drop off mail and, and stay in, pray, it, it really was, it was a sweet time. It really was. I hate it. It was for that reason, but it was a super sweet time. You know, it
Adam Walker (09:31):
Seems, it strikes me that, that a support community really makes all the difference when you’re going through something like that. Would you, would you agree?
Kelly Wright (09:40):
I would agree. And when you’re, when you go for these treatments, you’re sitting in these waiting rooms and you’re sitting with all these cancer patients and you’re hearing story. And, you know, as, as that, the sad one who didn’t have that, and it was heartbreaking you know, fortunately where I am, there’s this really sweet group at our hospital, that’s a care group and they put her in touch with somebody like that, but do not have, you know, people that are loving on you, caring for you. I can’t imagine doing that online. That would have to be rough
Adam Walker (10:19):
More about that. So, because it strikes me that allowing for yourself to be cared for is not easy for everyone and being vulnerable in that way is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. So could you talk a little bit about your experience with that and what was that like sort of Lee being willing to lean on other people?
Kelly Wright (10:42):
You know, that I have thought about that a lot because we are all created different. Everybody has their own way, their own things. It is hard to let people help. I don’t know why that is for some people really are there people that really will let anybody help? I don’t know, but it does seem like it is hard to say yes. And so you just have to turn that you really, if you say no to people offering to help you, then you took away their gift, you took away, their blessing took away their opportunity. So saying, no, doesn’t, it’s not just you you’re saying no to someone that wants to be useful or whatever. So I do find interesting that we do are quick to say no in this house, we did not say no. We left the keys out. You know, people just came and went and it was just the sweetest.
Kelly Wright (11:41):
But I, I do realize that it is super easy to say no very quickly, but I just, I encourage people, you know, to be yet be a yes person. Don’t say, let those people that want to help get the opportunity to, you know, give their gifts and it blesses them to be able to do it. So, you know, it’s a win-win kind of thing. And when I’m, my personality is very much you know, pull up your bootstraps, let’s get down and we got to get done. And, you know, I also love to love on people. So in that, through that whole thing, we had one day we took cookies for every body in the radiation department one day we filled the whole place up with flowers. We had flowers in a waiting room for people to take home with them. We had flowers in the nurses station.
Kelly Wright (12:36):
We have flowers everywhere in that place. One day we sent a me a love there. I mean, that’s just who I am. It just was fun to, I don’t know, cheer the place up because let me tell you a radiation department, It is super, super depressing and oppressive. There is no joy and happiness and there it’s just not it’s, it’s a very hard place and we just chose not. We chose to cheer it up a little bit. I love that. I love that. I didn’t have problems saying no to people helping. And then in turn, we were over there trying to cheer people up. And to this day I still send flowers down there to that radiation department, because it is such a depressing, oppressive place. And you know, what better place to cheer me up. Yeah.
Adam Walker (13:25):
Well, and I’m curious, like what kind of response did you get? I mean, that’s such a sort of unusual approach in that space. I mean, how was it,
Kelly Wright (13:34):
You know, I, before this phone call earlier today actually talked to the radiation department because I wanted to see the doctor’s notes from that, because like I said, it gets foggy, you forget stuff. And so my suite radiation oncologist, doctor, she sent over her notes for those two. When those two cancers came up in the way that they set up the treatment and one of them, she says at the very bottom of it, we’ve had the best time taking care of this pleasant patient. This, the people loved it like we had and they loved it. It was, it was really fun to sit there in that waiting room and watch people come off that cause you’re in the basement of a hospital, that’s where all most radiation departments are and they would come off elevator and they just would light up when they would see those flowers. The nurses were the same way and the same way about the camp, the cookies, you know, or the food, whatever, you know, it just, it created just the fun, you know, Kelly here let’s all smile or whatever. I love that.
Adam Walker (14:38):
That’s great. I mean, it sounds like it was infectious and still is in a lot of ways and that’s, that’s really important. Well so, so it, it, it sounds like you made the best of a difficult situation. Sounds like, you know, you and your family were, were willing to sort of step out of your comfort zones and accept, help and support from your community, which is, which is fantastic. So I guess really my last question to you is, you know, for, for those listening that are either going through breast cancer or supporting someone that’s going through breast cancer, what advice would you give
Speaker 4 (15:14):
To them? Hmm.
Kelly Wright (15:18):
If you’re going through it. I think the thing I would probably say is just one day at a time, you just got to get done what you got to get done, and there will be an end in sight. I think just looking at it that way, cause it can be very overwhelming one day at a time. And you know, you just got to find your way to have peace about it, whatever that is, maybe that’s, you know, counseling, maybe that’s, you know, you love your family. Maybe that’s exercise something that gives you that church faith or whatever it is. But just one day at a time. And then I think the caregiver part, I think is also kind of relates to people accepting help. Like it’s easier to treat your family in a different way than you treat, you know, the neighbor that’s dropping off the mail, you know what I’m saying?
Kelly Wright (16:14):
It’s like, we speak to each other differently when it’s your family versus we speak to the neighbor or somebody else. So I think you just have to be willing the caregiver and the patient just, there has to be a lot of grace extended because you know, it’s not going to be pretty and some days are going to be great and some days aren’t. And I think, you know, just reminding that person, you’re caring for that, you know, whatever it is that they need, that you’re here for them. I think that’s what you gotta do. I think that’s just a lot of grace. Yeah.
Adam Walker (16:51):
A lot of grace, a lot of grace. Wow. Well, that’s really, really good advice. From someone that’s really, you know, like, like, like you said, been through it twice now. So Kelly, this was really fantastic. Thank you so much for joining me on the show today.
Kelly Wright (17:08):
You’re so welcome. I appreciate you asking.
Adam Walker (17:17):
Thanks for listening to real pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen for more episodes, visit real pink.com and.org for more on breast cancer. Visit komen.org. Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter at AGA Walker or on my blog. Adam J walker.com.