In June of 2015, Licensed Practical Nurse Kelly Hatley, discovered a lump in her breast. The lump grew rapidly, prompting Hatley to contact her physician and schedule a mammogram, an X-ray of the breast used to detect cancer. The results would lead her on a life-changing path and fight against breast cancer.
“I went in for a needle biopsy in late August 2015, with a negative result. I then went in for a lumpectomy on September 18, 2015, with a positive result of cancer,” said Hatley.
A few days later she was diagnosed with Stage II, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – Breast Cancer. On October 20, 2015, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
Hatley received her chemo treatments at the chemotherapy center at Northeastern Health System.
“I had four rounds, every other week, of AC chemotherapy, and 6 rounds of T,” said Hatley. “I was scheduled for 12 rounds of T, but neuropathy set in my fingers and toes so I had to end early.”
An AC-T regimen is an abbreviation for a chemotherapy combination used to treat breast cancer. It includes drugs doxorubicin hydrochloride and cyclophosphamide, followed by treatment with paclitaxel.
Following chemotherapy, Hatley underwent 33 radiation treatments at Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center at Northeastern Health System, where she now works helping other cancer patients.
“My experience at NHS was a very good experience. I could not ask for better treatment. The staff that took care of me, my supervisors, co-workers and others, treated me with sincere kindness,” said Hatley. “As for how I felt? Initially I was mad, upset, going through the grieving process asking, ‘why me?’ Then I realized that I am a fighter. I can do this. ‘Why not me?’ My family needs me,” said Hatley.
While Hatley’s experience was new, she was no stranger to cancer. She tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene, a gene on chromosome 13 that normally helps to suppress cell growth. A person who inherits certain mutations, or changes, in a BRCA2 gene has a higher risk of getting breast, ovarian, prostate, and other types of cancer.
“This particular gene is very active within my family,” said Hatley. “My mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor. I have aunts that have had breast cancer, as well as aunts and uncles that have had different types of cancer.”
Hatley has now been cancer free for two years, and uses her position as a nurse at NHS to help others.
“Now, two years later, I am proud to say I am a survivor. As a nurse, I utilize what was given to me through pain and grief, to help others overcome what they are getting ready to go through. I am an advocate for sharing my story, because we are not guaranteed tomorrow,” said Hatley. “I have met some wonderful people that have wonderful stories about their cancer survival. Some are not as fortunate to beat cancer, but they are all fighters. I have been truly blessed to have gained a bond between people that I meet for only a short time, but share the same story.”
While the medical staff, medications and treatments played a huge part in Hatley’s recovery, it is the bonds she shares with others that pulled her through one of the darkest times in her life.
“My family, husband, daughters, mom, dad, sisters, brothers, friends, other family members and my church family – I could not have done it without their support right beside me,” said Hatley. “Most of all faith, prayer and God carried me through and still are!”
Early detection offers patients the best chance of surviving breast cancer. This is why Northeastern Health System offers a mammogram special each October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Patients wishing to have a mammogram may do so for a flat fee of $75, with no physician’s order required. To make an appointment, call (918) 772-4588.