It is now the beginning of November but it does not make October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, any less important.
For ECU women’s basketball player senior Chelsie Keys, that happens to be one of the most important months of the year. Chelsie’s grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was a freshman in college.
Keys said her grandmother told her she has been doing a self breast exam in the bathroom when she felt the lump. She then went to the doctor and they told her that she had breast cancer but luckily they caught it before it got really bad.
However, these were stories her grandmother shared with her after she had her surgery. Keys said her family did not even tell her about her grandmother’s condition until after she got out of surgery. Chelsie didn’t agree with them waiting, even though they were doing it to protect her, she still wishes they would have said something sooner.
Once the news got to her, Keys said she remembers leaving school and not going back for about a week so she could be with her in that time.
“My heart dropped, it hurt. I mean, I did not want to see her lay in a hospital bed. She is my heart.” When she saw her for the first time after surgery and rounds of chemo, her grandmother had one breast remove and had lost all her hair. “She didn’t look sad, but you could tell it bothered her losing a breast.” Keys recalled the burn marks she used to see on her and the pain from that.
As scary of a place as the hospital may be, Chelsie had a fun memory of the time they shared while she was there where they used to joke about the food and other things. “She was always complaining about the hospital food but I used to tell her it was good, until I tasted it and then we started laughing about it.” Keys said mashed potatoes are usually her favorite food even though they tasted like water and were mushy.
The whole experience really brought them even closer Keys mentioned.
She says her grandmother really remained strong throughout the whole thing and she and the rest of the family are “soldiers”. Seeing her being so strong rubbed off on the family and helped them make it through that troubling time.
With the help of the ECU Women’s Basketball Team and their community outreach program, Keys has had the opportunity to bring much needed awareness to the community about breast cancer. She really enjoys being able share her story with the community.
Keys grandmother is now 3 years post treatment and we wish her many blessings in the future!