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THE ADVOCATE

P EOPLE THE ADVOCATE Advocate staff photos by RICHARD ALAN HANNON Kelli Richmond, who is battling

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

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories following 28-year-old Kelli Richmond’s fight against ovar- ian cancer.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of wor- rying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, let- ting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s whole- ness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excel- lent harmonies.” — Philippians 4:6-9

BY PAM BORDELON

Advocate staff writer

Ovarian cancer patient Kelli Rich- mond reads that Bible passage every day.

The power of prayer is something the 28-year-old has learned a lot about since The Advocate first shared her story in February. “I picked up my Bible for the first time since I was diagnosed six weeks ago,” confessed Richmond, who has recently been thrown several curve balls. For starters, after completing three rounds of chemotherapy treatments she found out they were not work- ing. “I had this reoccurring problem about a week after those treatments,” she said. “They did a CT scan before deciding to use an abdomen port. That’s when they found I had two new tumors attached to my abdomen near my liver and kidney. I also have lesions on my spleen, but I don’t need it so that’s OK.” The verdict from Woman’s Hos- pital’s Dr. Jacob Estes: Richmond’s tumors were not responding to the current treatment. He could con- tinue to treat her but, if she wanted, he would give her a referral to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a second opinion. “That’s what we did,” said Richmond, who underwent surgery for Stage III ovarian cancer at Woman’s Hospital Oct. 28. “Out of

See PRAYER, page 2D

Hospital Oct. 28. “Out of ➤ See PRAYER , page 2D Ovarian cancer patient Kelli Richmond,

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.

Ovarian cancer symptoms

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, indiges- tion 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 per- sistent lack of energy, low back pain and shortness of breath.

Who’s at risk?

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 chil- dren, had her first child after age 30, experienced menopause after age 50 and/or has never taken oral contra- ceptives.

A game of Assassin

WHEN: May 21, WHERE: Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar, 151 Third St. DETAILS: Kelli Richmond’s friend Ni- cole LeGlue is organizing this fund- raiser 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 partic- ipate. 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 Po- laroids is THE ASSASSIN and wins a gift card to Lucy’s. INFORMATION: To register and for start time, e-mail Nleglue1677@gmail.com.

22DD Thursday, May 13, 2010 The Advocate

PRAYER

Continued from page 1D

the two trips we made to Hous- ton, we got information on cur- rent clinical trials. The one in Houston involved me being there three days a week.” That trial was for Stage I ovar- ian cancer; the trial for Stage II and III wasn’t starting for sev- eral weeks. So, M.D. Anderson recommended an alternative treatment using Avastin, which is delivered via an IV, and Cy- toxan, which is taken orally. “It was something I could do at home, and that was important. So, my final decision was to con- tinue 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 sup- ply 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 sup- plements have boosted her en- ergy so that she’s been able to re- sume her Pilates and spin class- es. 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

with pill bottles in her purse. “But, if it spreads and Advocate staff photo by RICHARD

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON

Kelli Richmond drinks her probiotics, which is just one of the many holistic and dietary sup- plements she takes on a daily basis.

causes a bowel obstruction or af- fects my organs … that’s where the trouble lays. The reality is my chances of surviving ovari- an 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 de- pending 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 pray- ing 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 car- ried me out of that minefield.” She turned what was sup- posed to be an engagement an- nouncement 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, smil- ing her infectious smile. “I de- cided 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 do- ing), and if I have to leave ear- lier 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 dis- cussing how to make women, especially younger women, aware of the symptoms of ovar- ian cancer. One idea pitched was having everyone wear teal ribbons and T-shirts such as the pink ribbons and T-shirts asso- ciated with breast cancer. As the ideas got tossed around and grew in scope, talk turned to how to make it happen. That’s

when Richmond chimed in, “I do this for a living, we’re going to make this happen!” And so the Girl Cancer Awareness Com- mittee 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 symp- toms for six months and was twice diagnosed with UTI (uri- nary tract infection). I ignored signs because I didn’t know the symptoms and I didn’t tell my doctors all of the symptoms be- cause 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’sthetimetodowhatI’veal-

ways 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.IfIdon’tI’llhavedoneevery-

thing I wanted to do. Now is not the time to procrastinate. I’m liv- ingeverydayasifitwasmylast.” She’s gone back to dance class and is taking tennis lessons. She also scratched off her bucket list seeing Government Mule in con- cert. 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!”