It was a day that Kellye Bailey won’t soon forget. It was July 17, 2020, and Bailey was in her bedroom changing her clothes. While doing so, her eyes spotted a knot on one of her breasts. The size of the knot really concerned her.
“I had not noticed it before, so I decided to send a picture of it to my sister,” Bailey said. “I asked her, ‘What is this a picture of?’ It was a knot that I could see.”
Her discovery was, in fact, a knot that measured four centimeters. The knot was big enough that it dimpled the nipple, which is usually a sure fire cancer diagnosis.
Bailey was able to get an immediate doctor’s appointment with an OB-GYN in Jackson. She was so sure that it was going to be a cyst, that she made the trip by herself. Colby Willis Kimmel, who is formerly from Grenada and lives in Madison now, met her at Kimmel’s mother’s doctor’s office where all the testing was performed.
On July 20, 2020, Bailey went to see the doctor, who confirmed that she had breast cancer. From there, the doctor sent her to have mammograms and ultra sounds performed.
“The more they asked for, the more nervous I got,” the 48-year-old mother of two recalled. “Then, the radiologist came in and said it was cancer. I’m normally not a speechless person, but for 15 minutes I couldn’t form a word. She finally asked me, do you have any questions.”
The doctor then made the decision to biopsy the knot. They attempted to deaden the knot, but couldn’t. The procedure was performed five times with the fifth bending the needle – it was that deep.
“They said that the knot had been growing for two years,” Bailey said. “Also, this particular kind isn’t often picked up on mammograms; maybe 15 percent of the time. The way the cancer distributes itself in the ducts is why the ultrasound can’t detect it. I, personally, think it has been at least four years. We thought it was infection or clogged milk ducts and that is how it starts.”
On her way home, the first person Bailey called was her husband, George, who she asked to call her mother. She had just lost her aunt to breast cancer. She also instructed him to break the news to Holland Bailey, their oldest son. When Kellye arrived home from the doctor, she told their youngest son, Rob Houston Bailey.
“I remember when I told Rob Houston,” she explained. “He just looked at me, got teary-eyed and walked off from me. Two hours later, he came back and said ‘Momma, I can’t lose you, you are going to beat this.’”
Bailey said Rob Houston sees her battle more than Holland because he is home more. Following one recent treatment, she went through some intense pain in her spine.
“I know it is hard on him because he sees the pain I’m going through,” she said. “Nothing was working to help with the pain and I would remember their faces watching me, staring at me. Being boys, they don’t talk a lot. I try to stay strong for them because I can’t imagine having a parent going through this. My boys mean a lot to me.”
Initially, doctors thought a bilateral mastectomy would get the entire cancer. More tests showed otherwise and a different plan of attack was put into action. She has also gone through genetic testing to see in what other parts of the body the cancer would return. Following chemotherapy, Bailey would take a pill for 10 years because this is a hormone-based cancer, which would put her into early menopause. Then a bilateral mastectomy would be next followed by reconstruction.
“The doctors felt because of the size of the tumor, it would be best to use chemotherapy, then move on to surgery,” Bailey said. “As of right now, it has not shrunk any and I’m scheduled to see the doctor on what to do next. They say it’s beatable, but because of my age and extensive family history, its tougher.”
Bailey’s history comes from an aunt and three of her grandmother’s sisters, which all died from cancer or had cancer. Several other family members have either died from or had cancer.
Bailey’s problem has been complicated with a congenial heart condition that often times dictates what type of further treatment will be performed.
“The type of chemo they wanted to use is called red devil and was not good for me and my heart condition,” she explained. “It forced us to do something different.”
The side affects from the chemo have been really bad at times. Bailey goes through a lot of pain from time to time. The interaction of the chemotherapy and her heart problems also cause breathing problems. People respond to the treatments in different ways and with her immune system weaker, it means she has to be extra careful. She can’t be around anyone that is sick that could make her sick.
Bailey did admit to not taking care of her self-exams like doctors recommend.
“I have always been very paranoid as heck with all of my family history,” Bailey said. “Our family had a history of fibrocystic cysts. Right or wrong, I didn’t do it. I’m still trying to figure out how it grew so much and I never noticed it.”
Bailey’s cancer is Stage 4 because it has metastasized in other parts of the body.
Through it all, Bailey has tried to remain positive and lean on her faith to get her through her cancer battle. She posts updates and pictures on social media often concerning her fight with cancer.
“All this is very mental on top of physical,” she said. “It’s difficult having to hear that word – cancer.”
Leaning on Faith
Having gone through so many health problems, Bailey feels God still has a purpose for her life.
“I still have a huge faith in God that He can and will get me through this,” she said. “I know that He is not through with me. He wants me here for something. Through all of this, I have had a lot of calls and texts telling me how strong I have been through all of this. I feel like He has used my situation to help others to get through these same type of situations.”
Bailey also helps others dealing with cancer. She spoke of a lady that has been diagnosed with cancer in the last month.
“She just asked a lot of questions,” Bailey said. “We had been able to trade what we had been told by our doctors. My stepmother and I also traded questions.”
Bailey lost her insurance when the heart condition became apparent, forcing her to resign her post as a teacher with the East Tallahatchie School District. The lack of insurance has affected her ability to pay her expensive medical bill. Her chemo port was $4,000 and the Pet Scans to check the cancer growth are $8,000 a piece. Bailey had to pay all of these expenses out-of-pocket. The expenses grow day by day.
“Cancer has to be the most expensive and costly word ever,” she said. “Colby helped me out by establishing me a givesendgo.com account. Doctors will tell you they will treat you, but that is not true every time. They say you are guaranteed to get Medicaid and Social Security with Stage 4 and a heart condition, that’s not true. I’m still fighting the battle to get financial help.”
However, random people from all over the country have contributed to Bailey’s account to help defray medical expenses.
“The fact that people I don’t know contributed to the account just shows God is at work,” she concluded. “It just makes you feel good.”
The account can be found at www.givesendgo.com by searching “Curing Kellye.” As of Oct. 6, the account had a total of $5,558 in donations and a goal of $10,000.