WILLIAMSON – At 29 years old, Kelly Mahon was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, two years later and with her final treatment scheduled for next month, Kelly has agreed to share her journey with the Williamson Daily News in promotion of tonight’s Tug Valley Relay for Life.
When Kelly first discovered a lump on her breast, she tried not to worry about it but a nagging thought urged her to contact a doctor. “I was actually the one that found my lump. We were lying in bed one night. I happened to accidently hit the side of my breast and I felt the knot. I told my husband and had him feel it and see what he thought. He said that he thought it may be cystic. I went a couple of weeks and didn’t think anything about it and it just kept kind of nagging me. I thought that I should probably go to a doctor and get it checked out just in case. We really don’t have a lot of cancer that runs in the family. I went to King’s Daughters (Ashland, Ky.) to have everything checked out and get the biopsy. They did a mammogram, two ultrasounds and a biopsy all on the same day. I had kind of been mentally preparing. I don’t know if it was just the Lord was telling me to be prepared but something was telling me that it wasn’t good,” Kelly stated.
The tests at King’s Daughter confirmed Kelly’s fear – she had breast cancer. Kelly explained stating, “My husband went with me the day I had my mammogram and all of that done. I will never forget – that is the day it became real. It was eight days after I had turned 29. We had asked the lady that was looking over my ultrasound images what she thought. She just looked at us very bluntly and said that it looked like breast cancer. That was when it kind of became real for us. We both barely made it out of the doors before we started crying. I was very fortunate. I got a very good prognosis from the beginning. I had what is called triple positive breast cancer. That is when there are three different hormones that they check you for and mine hit on all three levels.”
Kelly began treatment shortly after being diagnosed. Kelly, a school teacher, was required to take a semester off work to begin treatment. During this time, Kelly had several coworkers donate sick days to allow her time to begin treatment and heal.
“My treatment has been a little different than what most people do. I started chemotherapy in February 2014. I teach at Belfry High School and I ended up having to take off the rest of the semester. I was blessed. We have a wonderful work family there and I had a lot of people that donated days to me so that I could have that time off and still have my insurance and heal and still have my salary coming in. I know that God arranged that ahead of time. I had a lumpectomy in December of 2014. The knot that I first felt was about a centimeter. When they did the ultrasound, they found one that was 2.4 centimeters behind it. It was called a neoplasm. It was a little bit different than a typical cancer. It is more self-contained. Typically, it is seen in male breast cancer patients so it was very odd that I would get that type. I started chemo in February after I had the lumpectomy. I did the really bad stuff for about two months and then it has kind of tapered off. I have done a few things along the way. I will actually finish up with my last shot soon,” Kelly explained.
With diagnosis came the knowledge that she and her husband would not be able to have children on their own. “The summer before we found out, we had actually started trying for children. We had been married for five years at that time, and we were finally ready to start a family. Then all of that happened and I found out that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. It has been a very strange journey. Even though I had a wonderful prognosis, you have moments when you are down and it was hard to realize that we weren’t going to be able to have our own children naturally,” Kelly said.
One organization helped Kelly realize that there is life beyond cancer. Kelly explained stating, “We won an all-expenses paid trip to the Virgin Islands through a charity called Little Pink Houses of Hope. A breast cancer survivor started the charity to give breast cancer survivors a week at the beach. You don’t pay anything except for the travel down and forth. We got to go to the Virgin Islands and stay with other breast cancer patients and their caregivers. It was so life changing. I know we would have never been able to meet those people if it hadn’t been for the journey and the breast cancer and everything. I think we can see God’s hand through all of it. We got to meet some wonderful people and find out different things through them. It was so good to sit down and talk with people who understood what we were going through. Little Pink Houses is an awesome organization. Anybody can apply for it. Preference is given to people who are actively undergoing treatment. What is great about it is that they focus on having a life. Cancer is all consuming and it is good to have a reminder that there is life outside of it and to get away from the stress of all of it.”
After two years of treatment, Kelly expects to be finished in July. Kelly stated, “I should be finished with treatment next month. The last few tests I have got have been clear and not showing any evidence of cancer. That is a good thing. I am dealing with the side effects of chemo. It is one thing they don’t really prepare you a lot for. Chemo just poisons your body to kill out the bad stuff but it kills out a lot of good stuff too. Your body has to learn to be normal again. You have down days and you have good days. We have been blessed so far. It has been tough but it has been a blessing.”
Overall, Kelly explained that she feels breast cancer gave her a story to share. “My husband and I have been Christians for a long time. I told him, before all of this, I felt like I didn’t have much of a story. I was never a wild one growing up. I felt like I didn’t have much of a story to tell. It is like God has used this really bad thing to show how wonderful He is. We are very thankful. I am also very thankful for my amazing husband. I couldn’t have asked for a better caregiver,” Kelly said in conclusion.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)