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Breast cancer patient found lump two weeks before mammogram

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Breast cancer patient found lump two weeks before mammogram

At the recommendation of her family physician, Kelly Kelso scheduled a mammogram. Two weeks before the screening, she discovered a lump in her right breast.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She was 41, when Kelly Kelso had an annual exam by her family physician. At her doctor’s recommendation, she scheduled her first mammogram weeks later. But then she felt a lump the size of a golf ball. It had gone undetected during her screening. She still isn’t sure how quickly it became so obvious.

“I was going for a mammogram just to humor by physician. I had no family history and didn’t think I needed to worry,” said Kelso. An ultrasound and biopsy confirmed she has breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when healthcare providers offer an extra layer of advocating and educating about breast health. The American Cancer Society recommends women begin having mammograms by age 45, with the option to start at age 40. However, those at risk of breast cancer should have regular screenings at an earlier age.

On Sept. 18, 2014, Kelso, who has been married to her husband James, for 26 years, began chemotherapy. It was the same day as her son’s birthday. In addition to son, JT, she is the mother to two daughters, Ashley and Candice, and four grandchildren.

“The goal was to shrink the tumor and it was working for awhile until I started getting really sick,” said Kelso, who is in the care of IU Health Dr. Bryan Schneider. In 2016 she had surgery to remove the lump in her breast. Another mammogram showed new calcifications were forming in the breast. And that wasn’t all.

Kelso, who has worked at Dairy Queen since the age of 14, was enjoying a Reese’s Peanut Butter Blizzard when she had a negative reaction. She’d never had a nut allergy before but thought that she might be having one when she was rushed to IU Health Methodist Hospital. Tests showed the cancer had spread to her liver. She continued with chemotherapy and in 2018 she had a mastectomy to remove the calcifications from her breast.

“I try to focus on the positive. That we found it,” said Kelso. As she continues her treatments at IU Health Simon Cancer Center she talks about her family and her hobbies. She and James have a long history together. They grew up in the same Fountain Square neighborhood and James’ grandmother was once Kelly’s babysitter.

“Later on when I was working at Dairy Queen he’d come up once or twice a day to get an ice cream cone. That was back when they were 50 cents. It took about a week and half before he asked me out and we’ve been together ever since,” said Kelso. During their lifetime together they’ve enjoyed several Caribbean cruises. Kelso loves the water and also enjoys spending time at a family cabin on the lake. She is also known for her love of cooking and baking.

“My kids love when I make “Dad’s Famous Stew,” said Kelso, a recipe passed down from her dad. “I love to bake cheesecakes and cakes and have my granddaughter in the kitchen helping me. Since my diagnosis, my biggest fear is that I’ll become too sick to enjoy family. Most days I feel pretty good but you never know when it’s going to take me. “

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