Keep It Up For Kelli

Over the years, in my line of work and with my personal life, I have learned many lessons.  The most important, in my opinion, is one of hope.  When people come together and believe in something, the results can be overwhelmingly amazing and powerful.  Despite our best efforts, there are many factors in life out of our control.  However, there has always been strength in numbers and a sense of comfort in togetherness.  Fear and adversity try to knock us out individually, but if we stand together, they are just pawns in the game.

I would like to share the story of my friend, Kelli.  She is a young, beautiful wife and mother of two equally gorgeous girls.  Below is her story, shared by her sister Staci:

Kelli and her beautiful family.
Kelli and her beautiful family.

In May of 2014, Kelli started experiencing strange symptoms that we couldn’t seem to make sense of. The first “episode” occurred over Memorial Day Weekend just after she had finished “The Murph”, an intense CrossFit workout. She was light headed, nauseas, and felt like she need to sit down so she grabbed a seat on a concrete step nearby and considering she had just finished this crazy workout, didn’t think too much of it. As she was sitting there, she smelled a very strong acidic smell…so much so that she thought a nearby plant had just been sprayed with pesticide! After getting some water and eating an orange, her symptoms subsided and she went on about her day. Over the next few weeks, she continued to have strange symptoms such as “wooshing” in her ears, light-headed/dizziness, increased anxiety, headaches and itchiness just to name a few. She went to her General Physician who more or less dismissed her and sent her on her way with a “diagnosis” of vertigo, which we all knew couldn’t be right. Kelli had just transitioned into a full-time stay at home Mom, so we all kind of attributed some of the symptoms she was having to a change in schedule, lifestyle, stress-level, etc. She also made a bit of a connection to her symptoms being more apparent after she drank artificial sweeteners, so she stopped anything with Aspartame, Sucralose, etc in it and the symptoms subsided for a week or so. Kelli’s entire family had been planning a trip to Hilton Head for over a year and in June they were able to enjoy a fun-filled week together and Kelli had little to no symptoms the whole time!

After returning from Hilton Head, her symptoms returned and her headaches got more intense and became more frequent. Not knowing what doctor to go see, she turned to her OB/GYN as her next line of care. Immediately, this doctor recognized that this was not something he was used to seeing and referred to her a Neurologist. However, the first available appointment they had was not until September (it was not even mid-July at the time). After experiencing the intense headaches, which were accompanied with extreme nausea and vomiting, she was finally convinced that she needed to go to the ER and we prayed she would see a doctor that would be receptive and responsive to her. Well, our prayers were answered and the doctor in the ER was on it! He immediately started an IV of steroids and fluids, and ordered a CT Scan…which ultimately revealed a tumor in the right frontal lobe of her brain. Kelli was transported from Bethesda North to Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati to be admitted to the Neurosurgery ICU for surgery the following day (Friday, July 18th).

Kelli’s surgeon, Dr. McPherson, was able to perform an incredible surgery and remove all of the tumor in her right frontal lobe, however we did not know anything at the time about the pathology of the tumor. She came home from the hospital on Sunday, July 20th and began her recovery from surgery. Wednesday, July 23rd we went back to the MayField Clinic to see Dr. McPherson and receive the pathology results, which revealed that Kelli has Glioblastoma Multiforme, which is a Grade IV Brain Tumor.

Since then she has been undergoing treatments. Kelli started the process at the mid-end of August which consisted of 6 weeks of radiation (Monday-Friday) and 6 weeks of daily chemotherapy (Temodar which is a pill that she takes a night). She pretty much kicked a$$ throughout that whole time, experiencing slight nauseasness, fatigue, some headaches, scalp sensitivity, but kept on truckin’! Her first post-MRI was on November 3rd, and on November 4th we got the results which not only showed no progression, but in fact the part of the tumor that was not removed in surgery was “significantly less evident”! A week later, thanks to the tremendous support they have received, The Woodstocks got to take their girls to DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom and also spend a few days aboard The Disney Cruise Ship! They had a wonderful time and made some great family memories!

Since then Kelli began a cycle of treatment which involves 5 days of Chemotherapy (again Temodar), followed by 23 days off and then she repeats! She has so far completed 2 cycles of this, and has just begun her 3rd cycle. The next MRI will be sometime at the beginning of February, so we are praying for the same results as before!

I think many will agree that “hell hath no fury” like a mama scorn’d, and Kelli is proof as she is kicking cancer to the curb.  I’m asking for help from anyone reading this to “keep it up for Kelli” and stand united in hope that together, we can help this strong woman keep up the great work.

Starting now, sales of “There’s Something Different About My Hair” will not only be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati, but they will also be donated to Kelli to help her keep it up.  This is a great book for all children, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. With Valentine’s Day and Easter coming up, it will make a great gift for the children in your lives.  The best part:  it will be giving back much more than you could even bargain for today.

Keep up the hope for Kelli by clicking here.

Thank you for your generosity, your time reading this, and for sharing it as well.