Kelly Liebe’s journey with cancer started when she was 35, in 1998. From the moment she was diagnosed, everything changed. Kelly participated in a breast cancer treatment clinical trial. Twelve years later, this clinical trial would evolve into the treatment her daughter, Chrissy, was put on in 2010 for her breast cancer.
Kelly tells their story…
“At the age of 35, my path was about to change, and I would learn to navigate through this vast unknown. Thankfully I was never alone. Surrounded by my family, friends, and medical network, I gathered strength, knowledge, and courage through my breast cancer journey.
“The initial diagnosis was one of the worst events in my life. I remember the day I found the lump. I went to emergency I was so afraid. When I saw the doctor, I just knew from the events that unfolded next that it wasn’t good.
“I was shuffled from test to test that day. In between, I would call my husband who was at home looking after the kids. He tried to reassure me and be optimistic.
“Within the first week I had a biopsy, and it was sent in for testing. I was so anxious. I lost ten pounds, my body ached from my head to my toes.
“When the doctor came in and said you have breast cancer. I remember looking at my husband and the pain mirrored within his eyes can still be captured in my mind today.
“My parents came up on December 28th and surgery for a mastectomy, on the left side, was set for January 2, 1998. I was surrounded by nurses and doctors who were absolutely wonderful to me. Even though I lost a breast, I could still breathe, feel, and walk – I could still love.
“Later that month we went to the Cross Cancer Clinic in Edmonton. I was told I had stage 3 aggressive and grave triple-negative breast cancer with lymph node involvement.”
Kelly was given a few treatment options and officially decided on joining a clinical trial. Due to joining the clinical trial, anything new that pertained to her cancer diagnosis had to be overseen at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Kelly and her family were living in Fort McMurray at the time. Many of their days were spent driving the five-hour trip to Edmonton from Northern Alberta.
“In 2010, our daughter Chrissy, a single mother with two children, found a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed with the same type of breast cancer as I had in 1998.
“At the age of 32, our beautiful daughter had her breast removed and began her high-dose treatment, which was the refined version of my clinical trial.
“You realize that you are doing a clinical trial to better future treatment for others, you just don’t realize it will be your own daughter sitting in that chair.
“I wish the story ended there but sadly it does not. Chrissy’s cancer returned in 2012 with a vengeance and she was given one week to live. During that time, we obtained the rights to be guardians of our grandchildren, her children, Chloe and Ethan.
“She rallied and pulled through to the point where we could bring her home, after three months in the hospital. In August of 2012 that is what we did.
“On December 9th Chrissy took a turn for the worse and we called the home care nurse in. She arrived, went up to see Chrissy and then came down to see me.
“I will remember that moment forever I was standing in the laundry room and the nurse came in; she told me it was time. I thought to myself, ‘what do you mean it’s time?’
“The next morning, Chrissy took her last breath, and my breath was ripped from me. I will forever carry her in my heart.
“In November 2016 at my routine check-up, a lump was found. It proved to be early-stage breast cancer and on December 10, 2016, it was confirmed. How ironic to find that out on the date of Chrissy’s death but four years later. I thought to myself – I know you are there, love – I’ll be strong.
“So, our story continues, and we move with the day. We are still surrounded by our family which continues to grow with new additions.
“I would like to express such love and gratitude to all those at the Cross Cancer Institute who have played a role in not only our family’s journey but the journey of all who have walked through those doors.”
Read her husband’s story here.