Meet Kelly Duckworth, Breast Cancer Warrior!

LoudounWOJOSeptOct2015_Page_21I have been an ER nurse for 20 years and I have shared in countless victories for patients as well as help them through their darkest hours. I have cared for babies taking their first breath of air to patients that have just taken their last breath and everything you could possibly imagine in between. I cheer for my patients, I hurt for my patients, and I can’t imagine any other profession that I would rather be in. Being an ER nurse makes me feel like I make a difference every day.

I have always felt a certain degree of empathy for all of my patients in some way. My life, like many others, has come with its own difficulties and challenges. In 2004, when I was 37 weeks pregnant with my son, I received word that my husband had just been killed in a plane crash. I delivered my son 20 days later and carried him in my arms to his own father’s funeral when he was merely eight days old.

Seven years later, I was blessed to find love a second time, and married a wonderful man who later legally adopted my son. As we approach our fourth year of marriage, I realize how difficult it has been. On the third day of our honeymoon, I suffered a head injury so severe that it kept me out of work for three months. The following year was not much better as I suffered two very difficult miscarriages. Yet, nothing could prepare me for those three awful words that were spoken to me in March, 2014 that again took me from being a nurse to being a patient: “You have cancer.” The unfairness of it hit me and I was immediately full of emotions: rage, fear, turmoil, sadness, and disbelief.  As it sunk in, I had to decide how I was going to handle this new challenge that had been laid before me.

If you know me, you know that I have been blessed with the ability to continually find the good things that come out of the bad. I am a very positive person, and my strength, resiliency and sense of humor have carried me through many a difficult time. On the day of my diagnosis, I decided my modus operandi would be no different. The following year would include several surgeries to remove cancer from my breast and lymph nodes, five months of chemotherapy, complications that put me in the ICU on multiple life-saving IV drips, and nearly seven weeks of daily radiation.

My family and friends have given me the name “Warrior”; a perfect name for me based on my Irish heritage. My name, Kelly, means “Warrior” in Gaelic, and “Warrior” is the name given to breast cancer survivors.

As I said, good things can always be found; you simply have to be willing to look for them. I have felt the unwavering love of my family, friends, and coworkers, who all wore a special “Team Warrior” t-shirt to support me during my treatment. Since being in remission, I have continued to better myself and help others by raising money and walking in the Avon 39 miles over two days and running in the Komen 5k the following weekend. I was a team captain for our local Relay for Life event, and was named “Nurse of the Year” by my peers this year! I have taught my son to persevere through difficult circumstances, as I have shown my own strength.

No matter what happens,
I will be a survivor,
I will be a warrior.
Just you watch me.

By: Kelly Duckworth

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