When docs wheeled Kelli Kundert into surgical procedure a yr and a half in the past, everybody was fairly positive the surgeons have been eradicating a benign cyst from her ovary.
“I woke up from surgery and they told me, ‘You have cancer,'” she stated.
Kundert, who was 32 on the time, had felt some discomfort in her stomach and observed she was bloating. She did not assume it was too critical however determined to go to her physician anyway.
She ended up with Erin Stevens, a gynecological oncologist at Billings Clinic, who initially recognized the cyst. Women of their late 20s and early 30s merely do not get epithelial ovarian most cancers.
“At that age your chance (of having it) is the smallest,” Stevens stated.
So when she and her workforce found the most cancers in the course of the cyst removing, they have been all stunned. Kundert sat in her post-operation suite absorbing the information.
Her response was pragmatic; she had most cancers.
“I didn’t have a choice,” she stated. “I could sit back and sulk, or I could fight it.”
And that struggle began with a visit to Houston. Epithelial ovarian most cancers is so uncommon for ladies of that age that Kundert determined she needed a second opinion. Stevens readily agreed.
Kundert’s mother and father reside outdoors Houston, house of MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of many nation’s main most cancers remedy hospitals. Stevens has a colleague there and, having pulled a couple of strings, she was capable of get Kundert in with a specialist there inside the week.
That physician confirmed Stevens’ analysis and laid out her remedy choices.
“They said, ‘You can stay here or you can go back up to Billings. You’ve got a damn good doctor up there,'” she stated.
Kundert and Stevens had already bonded — Stevens is just a few years older than Kundert — and she trusted her physician. She needed Stevens treating her, so she returned to Billings.
“You can tell how passionate she is,” Kundert stated. “Sometimes she would sit and listen (to me) for an hour.”
Kundert acquired 18 weeks of chemotherapy, and her most cancers has been in remission since June 21, 2016. All by means of her remedies she did CrossFit and pressured herself to eat (chemotherapy can destroy the sense of style or make meals style like chemical compounds).
“She tolerated it like a champ,” Stevens stated of Kundert’s chemo remedies.
On Friday night time, it’s going to be Stevens’ flip.
Kundert hatched the thought of getting Stevens shave her head at Relay For Life, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday on the West High soccer subject. Stevens determined she’d work to boost $25,000, and if she hit the goal, she’d have Kundert be a part of her on stage to shave her head.
So far, Stevens is at $23,430, and she’s fairly positive she’ll hit the mark by Friday night time. Already, she’s the highest particular person fundraiser by greater than $13,000 for the Billings occasion.
Stevens has no qualms with shaving her head. She commonly talks to her sufferers concerning the side-effects of chemotherapy, about what occurs to the physique, about dropping hair.
“As a cancer doctor, it’s not anything I’ve ever had to experience,” she stated.
So on one degree it’s going to assist her to be extra empathetic with her sufferers. She additionally hopes those that see her, a bald lady in her white doctor’s coat, will reevaluate how they take into consideration most cancers.
“I’d love someday for people not to be afraid of cancer,” she stated.
Stevens is fast to acknowledge that it is nonetheless totally different for her. She’ll be selecting to shave her head whereas her sufferers do not have the selection when they lose their hair to chemo.
“This is a decision,” she stated. “Cancer takes away your ability to make decisions.”
After Kundert shaves Stevens’ head, they’ll donate the hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, which makes use of the hair to craft wigs for most cancers sufferers and donates them to the American Cancer Society.
They know it’s going to be an emotional and cathartic second; they’re wanting ahead to Friday’s occasion.
“It’s going to be really powerful,” Stevens stated.