In February 2012, Kelli Aggett finished breastfeeding her 3rd child, Poppi, who was 4 months old. A month later she noticed her left breast was not ‘right’– it was sore, red and swollen. Although her GP thought it was recurring mastitis, they sent her for a mammogram and biopsy. These indicated it was a rare inflammatory metastatic breast cancer.
Without a family history of breast cancer and with three kids under 4 years old, the then 38-year-old was very shocked with this news. The next couple of weeks were filled with appointments after appointments. The Wellness Centre at the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC) became a place for Kelli and her family to turn to for support and information, through a range of one-on-one meetings and group sessions.
Kelli said the ‘Look good, feel good’ program was invaluable and enabled her to meet others in similar situations. The BRICC Wellness Centre also offered her a comfortable place to sit and wait for appointments, enjoy a relaxing massage, have a cuppa and speak with volunteers and people going through their own cancer journeys.
In June 2012, Kelli had a mastectomy. This was a difficult time, both emotionally and physically, and was made more challenging by five months of chemotherapy. Following the chemotherapy, Kelli and her husband Luke went on a much deserved, relaxing holiday to Perth. On their return, Kelli returned to work from what was originally her maternity leave.
In February 2013, Kelli began radiotherapy — every day for five weeks — all whilst working, being a mum to three kids and the daily chores. While this period in her life was very draining and tiring, she was grateful for the wonderful support network of family and close friends and the opportunity to use the Wellness Centre.
Through 2013 – 2016, Kelli continued on with life and an ongoing treatment called Herceptin. In May 2014, Kelli underwent major surgery in Melbourne to have a Breast Reconstruction.
In August 2016, her body was telling her that something was just not right. Kelli was getting excruciating pain in her pelvis and upper legs. Following some tests and a scan, she was diagnosed with an unrelated ovarian cancer, which was another devastating blow for Kelli and her family.
Kelli booked in to see a gynaecologist and within the next week had a full hysterectomy. The cancer was in her right ovary and had spread through her tubes.
After this surgery Kelli then had to begin another form of treatment, Perjeta and is still receiving the two lots of treatments every three weeks.
Since her initial diagnosis in 2012, Kelli has received all her treatment and radiation at BRICC.
It’s been a long process and at times Kelli felt like giving up. But she would look at her three beautiful children and could never give up on them. They are her rocks and the people who give her strength to fight on.
Kelli would like to thank The BRICC Wellness Centre for being a huge source of support for her and her family through this journey.
Please support the BRICC wellness centre Dry July campaign.