This is why we Walk for Women's Cancers and Unite in Pink
Kellie was diagnosed with cervical cancer on the 6 May 2021. Kellie’s cancer was very difficult to detect. Many symptoms of gynaecological cancers are often misinterpreted as something else. But Kellie pursued a diagnosis, trusting her instincts and listening to her body, knowing something wasn’t right.
After she underwent the surgery that discovered a 3cm tumour on her cervix, her surgeon told her if she hadn’t come to see him, she probably would have died.
“When I called my sister Nyomi to tell her the news she burst into tears in the middle of a shopping centre.”
“The positive is that I listened to my body, and I made sure I tried as best I could to go through what I needed to, to get the diagnosis."
Kellie has just finished up treatment at RBWH in Brisbane, where she was staying at Cancer Council Queensland’s Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge in Herston to be closer to the hospital. Her husband, mum and sister Nyomi often took turns coming to Brisbane to stay with Kellie at the lodge and help out, as she was often exhausted after receiving chemotherapy and radiation. On the weekends, she travelled back to her home in the Noosa hinterland to be with her children.
Kellie was a carer for her father, who had prostate cancer and passed away in 2019. He lived with Kellie for three years while he was undergoing treatment. Previous to this, Kellie’s father nursed his own brother (Kellie’s uncle) through a serious illness, though he sadly passed away in 2017. Their family has been hit pretty hard by cancer, but have a strong history of caregiving.
"With the amount of things we went through with Dad, to find out your sister had cancer as well, it was so tough and I was pretty angry to begin with," said Kellie's sister, Nyomi.
"Dad came and lived with me for the last three years of his life and I cared for him and took him to all his chemotherapy appointments and to the hospital...it was hard but I would do it again. I drove him places, made sure everything was ok, that he had food and went to doctors appointments. I love my Dad and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Eventually the cancer spread to his bones. We looked at radiotherapy towards the end but he was so sick, it just wasn’t going to give him good quality of life," said Kellie
"They’d given him eight weeks to live, but he didn’t quite make it that long..."
"We gave him the best life he could have in those last weeks, with his grandkids around. He passed away in my house, with Nyomi and I there, which is what he wanted."
Kellie’s sister, Nyomi, says that being able to stay with Kellie at the lodge while she was receiving treatment, was so vital. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, she couldn't accompany Kellie to her appointments at the hospital, but was there to offer her emotional and practical support when she returned from treatment.
“Being at the lodge is like being at a home away from home. You’re not in a sterile motel room that you feel like you need to hide away in.”
“It’s definitely the comforts of home... TV, kitchen, cooking facilities... the staff are super accommodating and if you need anything you just go downstairs and have a chat”
Kellie and her family are very grateful for the support of Cancer Council Queensland, particularly that of the lodge, the Transport to Treatment service and the counselling services available. Both Kellie and Nyomi acknowledge how much more they know about caring for someone with cancer, since they did so for their Dad, but also how much easier Cancer Council Queensland can make this process.