• May 5, 2015

PINK THE BASIN - Odessa American: Health

e-Edition Subscribe

PINK THE BASIN

Surviving the Ultimate Fight

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, October 1, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 9:47 am, Mon Oct 1, 2012.

Without the comfort of her husband, children or friends, Lorita Kelley learned news that would change her life.

At age 41, Kelley was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now in remission, Kelley provides the companionship she was missing to breast cancer patients through Medical Center Hospital’s Patient Navigator Program.

As the nurse navigator, Kelley is with a patient and the patient’s family nearly every step of their journey fighting against cancer.

From diagnosis, Kelley can accompany patients to doctors’ appointments, treatments and even assist family members and friends in learning how to cope and support their sick loved ones.

“What I’m hoping to do is make sure no one feels alone like I did,” Kelley said.

A lot has changed since Kelley was first diagnosed in 1998.

Kelley said when doctors first found an abnormality in her breast, treatment was decided nearly a month and a half after diagnosis because doctors could not decide if the cancerous cells would metastasize, or spread to other body parts.

“I had to take long walks because I didn’t know my future. As a nurse, you like to be in control and nothing was in control,” Kelley said. “In this time of indecision, all I saw were my children’s faces in my mind.”

Kelley’s doctors performed a lumpectomy on the infected breast and prescribed her tamoxifen, a hormonal treatment taken orally to stop cancerous cell growth.

After five years of taking tamoxifen, Kelley was in remission and not required to take medication.

But Kelley said survivors are often hesitant to say they’re fully recovered.

“You realize you are not invincible and your body made a mistake and can make it again,” Kelley said.

As part of her recovery, as well as the recovery of others, part of Kelley’s role as a navigator nurse is to speak with other survivors.

“As a cancer survivor, I better understand and I want to be more a part of it,” Kelley said of helping other survivors. “I’m eternally grateful for each day that I have to make this earth a better place.”

Kelley’s experiences have helped her better relate to patients like Debra Coleman, who is recovering from her second bout with breast cancer.

Coleman had a mastectomy on her right breast in July after her doctor urged her to have a mammogram, during which Stage 1 cancer cells were found.

After the surgery, Kelley visited Coleman and gave her a heart pillow made by volunteers at the Eisenhower Church of Christ. The pillow makes lying down easier post-surgery after breast tissue has been removed.

“It was like a ray of sunshine. That was when I needed someone to talk to,” Coleman said. “I felt human.”

The experience was drastically different from her initial diagnosis with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Coleman, a single mother, said when she was first diagnosed in 2008, she barely had enough emotional support to get her and her son through the battle.

After surgery on her left breast, Coleman endured painful chemotherapy treatment that caused her to go into deep depression.

“My bones hurt so bad. I couldn’t walk. I was healthy until I got cancer,” Coleman said. “I went through the chemotherapy by myself. I thought my life was over. I couldn’t plan anything because of chemo. It’s devastating when you’re single going through all of that.”

With the help of her doctor and Kelley, Coleman said her outlook on life is more positive.

“Having (Kelley) there to talk to, it helped me. It was like, ‘Slow down,’ ” Coleman said. “The first time, I couldn’t talk about cancer. I didn’t want to face it. It’s different (now). I’m reborn.”

Having experienced breast cancer and hearing others’ stories, Kelley said breast cancer awareness is essential for women.

“I’ve survived but there are a lot more (women) out there that need to get themselves checked and need a cure,” Kelley said.

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com. You will find full-length local stories with details you can't read anywhere else.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of trips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness video product teaches you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

Gas Prices

Gas Prices

Local gas prices from over 130,000 stations in the U.S., along with maps to each location. More >>

Horoscopes

Horoscopes

Featuring sun signs, the Chinese Zodiac, a love meter, star charts, daily astro picks, daily peak time, and much more. More >>




Monday 05/04/2015
Garden-Inspired Gifts for Mom
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for a mom who has it all, or just the right way to express your love and appreciation, this Mother’s Day you can give a gift that keeps on growing with items inspired by the garden.

more »
Enjoy Backyard Family Time
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) A lush, healthy landscape is the perfect setting for making family memories. In fact, more than half of Americans say their yard is their favorite place at home to spend quality time with family.

more »
Energy-Efficient Renovation Tips
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) Picking paint colors and ogling kitchen remodels on Pinterest can be fun for homeowners looking to renovate. However, today’s homeowners are looking for upgrades that not only look great, but save money. Energy-efficiency improvements are a smart investment toward curbing energy use, cutting energy bills, and increasing the value of a home.

more »
Home Upgrades from the Inside Out
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) Looking to do some home improvement projects this spring? Plan ahead for the biggest impact for your budget.

more »
Get Your Yard Ready for Outdoor Fun
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:31 am

(Family Features) From impromptu dinners with pals to celebrating special events with family, warm weather adventures await in your own backyard. Before you invite the gang over to enjoy cocktails or a cookout, make sure your outdoor spaces give the right impression for enjoying those carefree summer moments.

more »
More Home Improvement