Heidi Kelly, Berks County
Four years ago I saw something on my breast … not a lump, a dent. I thought it was a bruise but it wasn’t going away. After a while I kind of knew what it was but I didn’t want to think about it. At that time Giuliana Rancic of E! Entertainment News was going through breast cancer treatment and whenever I saw her I thought maybe I should go get this checked…
When I finally told my husband he freaked out. Michael’s mom had breast cancer and he stayed up half the night talking to his sisters who are in the medical field. He called my doctor in the morning and said we’re going to get this checked. I didn’t want to go because it was our anniversary and I didn’t want to ruin the day.
I had a biopsy and a few days later it was confirmed that I had breast cancer. My husband did the research because reading about it made me too upset. The surgeon wanted to save my breasts but I didn’t want them. I just wanted to get rid of them. I had a double mastectomy and full reconstruction. Then I went on my merry way and was good for two years. Two years almost to the day I found a lump on my scar which the plastic surgeon at first thought might be a suture, but the result was breast cancer again.
During this time, I was sewing and learning how to make handbags. I was using other people’s patterns and then I started creating my own patterns. Strangers on the street started complimenting me on them and whenever I posted photos of the bags on Facebook friends would ask for them. Michael said we might want to try to turn this into a business and HKelly designs was born. Whenever I felt good enough I was sewing. My sewing machine became my therapist. This month, I’m selling handmade items on my website with proceeds going to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition!
This experience taught me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. I’ve always been considered an emotional type who cries at TV commercials. I was outspoken though about my breast cancer and several friends had mammograms after I talked about it openly with them. My new motto is live life now; don’t wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come and not necessarily because of breast cancer. Be the individual who you are. Keeping in mind that tomorrow might not come, my husband and I travel all the time now. Las Vegas is a favorite place; in fact, we were married there in 2007 and we’ve gone back twice this year. We were in Italy last spring and we are headed to Alaska next spring!