TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – October 31 marks the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But the fight for thousands of women in the U.S. is ongoing, including Kelli Royer from Topeka. As if being a single mom isn’t hard enough, Royer is raising her three kids while also fighting an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Dr. Muhammad Salamat at Cotton O’Neil’s Cancer Center says, “Kelli had disease in her breast and she had it in her lymph nodes.”
“They called me with the results that I had stage 4 (in my) lymph (nodes). That really threw me for a loop,” Kelli said.
Cancer is a disease Kelli’s family knows well. Her husband died of lung cancer, leaving Kelli to raise their three kids.
“I think that’s what made it a lot harder for my children. Knowing we lost dad and now mom’s getting the same diagnosis,” says Kelli.
A nurse herself, Kelli knows all too well the traumatic experience patients go through while receiving treatment, even saying, “I was hesitant about doing treatment. But when you got three kids that depend on you, you’re all they have. You’ve got to fight.”
But to fight she needed insurance, and wasn’t sure how she was going to afford treatment at first.
“My kids were very supportive. My 21-year-old son had a Chevy Cruz at the time. He sold his car so he could help pay the bills while mom was sick. They were really by my side and giving a hand when they could,” says Kelli.
She also visited a health care clinic in Atchison, which connected her with a social worker. Within a day she knew her mammogram and biopsy would be covered, and she started the process of getting Medicaid.
“I had chemo every week for three months. Every third week I had four chemo drugs at one time,” explains Kelli.
“I could see the way when she came in how worried she was and the way she went out with this attitude that I am a fighter. I am going to fight for myself and I am going to fight for my family. That attitude helped her go through the treatment easily. She had a few ups and downs but she did really, really well,” said Dr. Salamat.
Kelli says, “Just make every day the best you can and every chance I get to be with family and friends, make it worthwhile. I want them to remember the good times.”
Now, Kelli is in remission. But each day she proves when hard times arise, there are ways to fight back.