“I thought I knew cancer… we’d been around it, but you just have no idea…”
Keely and her daughters, Chloe and Ellen
Keely was like any other young mum, tired whilst working and raising her two young daughters. However, unlike other mums, Keely noticed swelling in one of her breasts and felt unexplainably nauseous. Concerned, but not preparing for the worst, Keely went to see her doctor. Her doctor suggested the swollen breast was related to her having recently stopped breastfeeding her second child but conducted some tests for nausea.
Six weeks later, as her symptoms persisted, Keely found out the cause of her exhaustion was worse than she had imagined. She had metastatic (advanced) breast cancer and it had spread to her bones, liver and brain.
As the cancer had rapidly spread, Keely was told her time was limited.
Trying to sensitively communicate the seriousness of her situation, Keely’s oncologist suggested she make videos of herself to provide a keepsake so her young daughters, aged 3 and 1 at the time, might remember her.
However, thanks to significant advancements in research – the research you help fund – Keely is still here almost eight years later. She’s not just living with cancer, she’s thriving. Her condition is stable but incurable and her ongoing treatment is a constant reminder. “Although regular chemo and other treatments continue and will do so for the foreseeable future, cancer has not prevented me from embracing life,” Keely says.
Through Cancer Council’s Soiree for Women under 45, Keely was able to meet other women in a similar situation.
“Cancer affects your life in so many unexpected ways,” Keely shares. Her first step in dealing with her cancer journey was to contact the 13 11 20 Information and Support Line which put her in contact with Cancer Council NSW’s Legal and Financial Planning Referral Services. From here she was able to manage her affairs and create her will prior to going in for high-risk surgery.
Keely is now a Cancer Council NSW ambassador and speaks at events, sharing her experience and stories. “Knowing what I know now, I’m keen to increase awareness about breast cancer in women of my age with similar circumstances and want to warn others against ‘explaining away’ their symptoms and ‘soldiering on’ with their busy lives.”