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THE ADVOCATE
Advocate staff photos by RICHARD ALAN HANNON

Kelli Richmond, who is battling ovarian cancer, hugs her second cousin, Lorelei Bolen, at her ‘celebration of life’ party on April 17. With Richmond are, from left, sister Kristen Stewart and friends Sarah Godley and Brooke Stikeleather.

POWER of PRAYER
Patient finds new strength in battle against ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer symptoms

Editor’s note: This is the second in a The power of prayer is something series of stories following 28-year-old the 28-year-old has learned a lot about Kelli Richmond’s fight against ovar- since The Advocate first shared her ian cancer. story in February. “I picked up my Bible for the first “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of wor- time since I was diagnosed six weeks rying, pray. Let petitions and praises ago,” confessed Richmond, who has shape your worries into prayers, let- recently been thrown several curve ting God know your concerns. Before balls. you know it, a sense of God’s wholeFor starters, after completing three ness, everything coming together for rounds of chemotherapy treatments good, will come and settle you down. she found out they were not workIt’s wonderful what happens when ing. “I had this reoccurring problem Christ displaces worry at the center about a week after those treatments,” of your life. she said. “They did a CT scan before “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say deciding to use an abdomen port. you’ll do best by filling your minds That’s when they found I had two and meditating on things true, noble, new tumors attached to my abdomen reputable, authentic, compelling, near my liver and kidney. I also have gracious — the best, not the worst; lesions on my spleen, but I don’t need the beautiful, not the ugly; things it so that’s OK.” to praise, not things to curse. Put The verdict from Woman’s Hosinto practice what you have learned pital’s Dr. Jacob Estes: Richmond’s from me, what you heard and saw tumors were not responding to the and realized. Do that, and God, who current treatment. He could conmakes everything work together, tinue to treat her but, if she wanted, will work you into his most excel- he would give her a referral to M.D. lent harmonies.” — Philippians 4:6-9 Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a second opinion. “That’s what we BY PAM BORDELON did,” said Richmond, who underwent Advocate staff writer surgery for Stage III ovarian cancer Ovarian cancer patient Kelli Rich- at Woman’s Hospital Oct. 28. “Out of mond reads that Bible passage every day. ➤See PRAYER, page 2D

The most common symptoms include abdominal bloating or discomfort, increased abdominal size or clothes that fit tighter around your waist, increased or urgent need to urinate and pelvic pain. Additional signs and symptoms are persistent gas, indigestion or nausea, unexplained changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or gain, loss of appetite, feeling full quickly during or after a meal, pain during sexual intercourse, a persistent lack of energy, low back pain and shortness of breath. All women are at risk of developing ovarian cancer regardless of age; however, a woman’s risk is highest during her 60s and increases with age through her late 70s. Research suggests a relationship between the number of menstrual cycles in a woman’s lifetime and her risk of developing ovarian cancer. A woman is at an increased risk if she started menstruating at an early age (before 12), has not given birth to any children, had her first child after age 30, experienced menopause after age 50 and/or has never taken oral contraceptives.

Who’s at risk?

A game of Assassin
WHEN: May 21, WHERE: Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar, 151 Third St. DETAILS: Kelli Richmond’s friend Nicole LeGlue is organizing this fundraiser to help pay her living expenses, her medicines and supplements, therapy/counseling and other needs that may pop up. There is a maximum of 50 players, who must preregister and raise a minimum of $25 to participate. Each player receives a Polaroid of themselves to wear on a lanyard. The point of the game is to “kill” your opponents by stealing their picture. If you kill someone you get all of the pictures they have gathered. The last person standing with ALL of their Polaroids is THE ASSASSIN and wins a gift card to Lucy’s. INFORMATION: To register and for start time, e-mail Nleglue1677@gmail.com.

Ovarian cancer patient Kelli Richmond, 28, undergoes a CT (Computed Tomography) scan performed at Woman’s Hospital to determine if her treatment plan is working.

2D

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Advocate when Richmond chimed in, “I do this for a living, we’re going to make this happen!” And so the Girl Cancer Awareness Committee was born. The group is planning several events for this coming September. “It’s very important especially for people my age to be aware,” Richmond said. “I had symptoms for six months and was twice diagnosed with UTI (urinary tract infection). I ignored signs because I didn’t know the symptoms and I didn’t tell my doctors all of the symptoms because I didn’t think they were important. When you’re my age, the last thing on your mind is cancer.” Richmond is also writing a book; a “fiction chick-flick” story loosely based on her reality. “Now’s the time to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I guess you could say I’ve made a bucket list. As my therapist told me, if I survive I can make a new list. If I don’t I’ll have done everything I wanted to do. Now is not the time to procrastinate. I’m living every day as if it was my last.” She’s gone back to dance class and is taking tennis lessons. She also scratched off her bucket list seeing Government Mule in concert. She caught them the last weekend of Jazz Fest. Up next is a trip to California to see friends. “I also want to go on an eastern Mediterranean cruise, but I’ve got to find the money for that,” Richmond added. “If there’s anywhere out of the country I want to visit, that’s it.” Meanwhile, she continues to pray as others also pray for her. “I would not still be standing without my rock, Jesus, and my strong family, friends and even strangers that are holding my hands while I’m taking one step at a time on my rock!”

PRAYER

Continued from page 1D the two trips we made to Houston, we got information on current clinical trials. The one in Houston involved me being there three days a week.” That trial was for Stage I ovarian cancer; the trial for Stage II and III wasn’t starting for several weeks. So, M.D. Anderson recommended an alternative treatment using Avastin, which is delivered via an IV, and Cytoxan, which is taken orally. “It was something I could do at home, and that was important. So, my final decision was to continue with Dr. Estes,” Richmond said. “I take the Cytoxan every day and will get six rounds of Avastin every two weeks. The Avastin strangles the blood supply to the tumor; the Cytoxan kills the tumor. Avastin is a real hot drug in cancer treatment right now. On the ovarian cancer website, there’s someone on the same regimen as me and hers is working. I’ll know by the end of June or the first of July if it’s working (for me).” She also takes a daily regimen of natural supplements chosen with a wellness consultant which her doctor approved. The supplements have boosted her energy so that she’s been able to resume her Pilates and spin classes. Richmond’s also “juicing” and cutting refined sugar from her diet. “I’m getting poison put into my body,” she said. “Now I’m really strict about what I put into it; my body doesn’t need the added stress. “What I have now is not going to kill me,” continued Richmond, who has a gallon-size Ziploc bag filled with pill bottles in her purse. “But, if it spreads and

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON

Kelli Richmond drinks her probiotics, which is just one of the many holistic and dietary supplements she takes on a daily basis.
causes a bowel obstruction or affects my organs … that’s where the trouble lays. The reality is my chances of surviving ovarian cancer are very slim and I’m possibly looking at a life on chemo.” That possibility factored into Richmond’s second curve ball — a broken engagement. “I was depending on him to make me feel better,” she said. “That was a huge eye opener for me — I was leaning on another human to make me happy when I should have been leaning on God and my Bible. Everybody was praying for me, even total strangers, but I wasn’t really praying for myself.” Three weeks later Richmond’s “pity party” ended. “I found strength I didn’t know I had,” she said. “I felt like I was in a minefield with only one limb left. I asked myself, do you want to lay here and keep getting hit or do you want to fight. I prayed really, really hard and God carried me out of that minefield.” She turned what was supposed to be an engagement announcement party into an “I’m alive!” celebration. She took her therapist’s advice and decided it was indeed time for her to be a little selfish. “It was hard for me to do, but if ever there was a time, it’s now,” she added, smiling her infectious smile. “I decided I’m not going to let cancer rob me. I’m going to hang out with my little cousins and go to parties (which her earlier chemo prevented her from doing), and if I have to leave earlier because I get sick, so be it.” Richmond also had to go on disability from her job as the development manager for the ALS Association Louisiana Chapter. “It was important to me to keep working but the fight got a lot harder and longer than anticipated … I just wasn’t able to give it everything; it was an added stress I don’t need.” But she’s finding other ways to use her event-organizing, marketing and writing talents. At her support group meeting at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, they were discussing how to make women, especially younger women, aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. One idea pitched was having everyone wear teal ribbons and T-shirts such as the pink ribbons and T-shirts associated with breast cancer. As the ideas got tossed around and grew in scope, talk turned to how to make it happen. That’s