My Daughter, My Hero

by Donna Kirk on September 3, 2013

image (3)Despite my daughter Kelley’s breast cancer diagnosis, double mastectomy and now, chemotherapy treatments, she is leading a positive, busy life. Her superior intelligence and talent as an artist inspire her friends and supporters.

Kelley has fashioned this beautiful beaded Bra and entered it into The Run for the Cure contest. She also had to write a short back story piece to accompany her entry.

Facets, by Kelley Kirk

The morning of April 17, 2013 changed my life in a way that I’d never expected. It was a Wednesday with nothing exceptional going on, or expected. Then my phone rang.

I’d been waiting for the results of a breast biopsy that I’d had following my first mammogram. My doctor began with, “I don’t normally like to do this over the phone …,” and with that my ears began to hum and I could feel my pulse racing. The rest of what she said was a blur but I managed to make notes so that I could digest what she’d said.

I had Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, Grade 2. I didn’t know what it meant other than I had breast cancer.

In the weeks that followed, tests were completed and waiting ensued. I always felt like I was waiting.

At doctors’ appointments words like lumpectomy, mastectomy, biopsy, hormone positive, axillary lymph nodes, reconstruction, radiation and chemotherapy became common language. Each test performed impacted the next decision regarding my treatment. Each time a new piece of information was presented, new options needed to be considered. Each was a facet, building upon one another, to create the complete picture of my particular cancer.

At 41, I am young for ILC (Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.) I am also in a minority since just 10%-15% of breast cancer patients have this particular type of cancer (the most common is Invasive Ductile Carcinoma). I opted for a mastectomy of my right breast and a prophylactic of the left. My decision was made with the best information possible and the guidance of my doctors, family and friends. For me, it was the right choice.

That’s the crux of breast cancer; no one case is like any other. Each person affected by breast cancer is different, even if they have the same diagnosis. As such, my bra is a representation of this multi-faceted disease. Each crystal on my “Breast Dressed” bra is a person; each side of every crystal is one piece of their individual puzzle.

The top portion of the bra is lined with dark- and light-pink crystals, single file, in the same way that Invasive Lobular Carcinoma cells grow in a single file, making ILC difficult to find, even on a mammogram. My 1.5 inch tumor wasn’t visible on the mammogram and was only detected through ultrasound, for example.

I chose a double D bra because that was my former size. I made “poofs” for the cups, similar to ones that inserted into my mastectomy bra following surgery. The poofs assisted with healing, both physically and, I believe, mentally. The physical change in my body was a drastic change and yet another facet to this disease.

There is one light pink crystal for every nine dark pink crystals to represent the 1-in-9 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

The clear crystals scattered around the Breast Cancer ribbons signify the random nature of this disease that will affect more than 230,000 people diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Association.

Kelley Kirk,
Kelley's Entry

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mags September 4, 2013 at 10:28 am

And the winner is…….Kelley Kirk. The score is 10 out of 10 for the beautiful beaded bra that tells its own story. Congratulations!


jennyms September 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

donna, kelley’s gifts as an artist and writer are evident in this piece. she writes so beautifully and in such a restrained fashion that the impact of her diagnosis, and the facts she provides about cancer, are even more chilling. and yet i hear the sound of hope throughout. best wishes as she goes through her treatment.


Carolyn September 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Kelley. You are a Wonder Woman and love your wonder bra.! What an inspiration. Not unlike my dear friend Diddy , your mom. Xo C


susan walker September 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Kelley Kirk is now my hero too. I love the bra. Run for the prize.


Heather Loch October 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

Kelley You Inspire and good luck to you in so many ways


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