A SCHOOL cook from Skipton who early last year was told she had advanced ovarian cancer, but following treatment is now cancer free is doing all she can to support a charity close to her heart. 

Kelly Ann Lord says she could not have survived without the support of friends, her mum, and family and on Saturday, January 27 will be holding a fundraising event for Target Ovarian Cancer at Skipton's Moorview Social Club, where there will be bingo, a raffle and food.

Everything changed for Kelly Ann in May, 2023 when she went to the doctors with what she thought was an infection.

"The doctor sent me for an examination and blood test to look further into things. The results of my blood test had a slightly raised CA125 level which is the official term for the ovarian cancer marker. I was sent for an ultrasound and the following week was sent to the gynaecology unit to discuss my results.

"Initially I was told that even though my CA125 marker was slightly above average, if it was anything sinister then the marker level would have been higher than what it was, I would have been rapidly losing weight, I would have lost my appetite and would have been genuinely unwell. Therefore, they were leaning more towards endometriosis.

She was sent for an MRI scan, and the following day her world was turned upside-down. She was at work when she got a call from the gynaecology nurse specialist team asking her to attend an appointment the next day.

" I work in a primary school kitchen as the cook, and we had a special themed lunch the following day so me being me, I said I couldn’t possibly go and miss out of the event with the children. I was then urged to attend and asked to take a friend or family member with me as it was paramount that they saw me then.

"I left work in shock and went straight to my friend’s house. We spoke about all the possible reasons, and she said she would come along. We went to the appointment - that was and still is a bit of a blur. This was the day I was told I did not have endometriosis. I had stage three ovarian cancer.

"I was bombarded with information during my appointment but was shown great support and respect throughout each one I had. I was told they had seen two large masses attached to my ovaries, my lymph nodes were swollen in my pelvis and neck and there were nodules in other areas of my abdomen that were a concern.

"I was given an appointment for two weeks’ time for a biopsy to be taken. Everything happens in two-week blocks, but it feels like forever. What I found most upsetting was to go home and tell my parents, after losing their son, my brother, Nigel, to cancer at the young age of 39, that their daughter had also been given a diagnosis. I think that must be one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

"The results of my biopsy showed the cancer had not gone to my neck but that it was aggressive in my ovaries, peritoneum, omentum and abdominal lymph nodes. It also revealed that I was BRCA 1 positive. This means that I have inherited the gene from one of my parents which resulted in going down the route of genetic testing which is still on going."

This however meant she was more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

She said: "Because of the amount of cancer in my body, chemotherapy was the only option to begin with as I was not able to have surgery. The hope was that the chemo would eventually allow surgery to happen, and it did.

"Before that could go ahead, I had to go through three gruelling sessions of chemo every three weeks from June. The side effects of each session were all different but all equally horrific. The one that really affected me the most was my hair loss. Before chemotherapy I had a head of thick, blonde, shoulder length hair and I lost it all.

"This massively knocked my confidence and has taken a lot of getting used to. There were times when I really could have given up, but I knew I had to stay strong for me and my son, Kaiden. Kaiden is only 16 and was going through his exams at the time of my diagnosis. I am incredibly proud of how he has handled all of this."

After the first three sessions, a scan showed the treatment was going well and doctors could discuss surgery.

"They said they were going to cut me from just below my diaphragm to my pubic bone, opened like a book, to remove all cancer visible to the human eye.

"It was set for Tuesday, September 5 2023 and thankfully went ahead. I was in theatre for a full day and recovered in LGI Bexley wing for a week before being discharged to carry on my recovery at home. An operation like that has a 12-week recovery period but just five weeks post op I started my next three rounds of chemo.

This was to zap any possible traces left behind. These sessions went up to November 21, every three weeks, So not only was I recovering from the surgery I was also dealing with the aftermath of chemo again. Once these were completed, I was sent for probably the most important scan yet.

"To see whether everything had done what we had hoped for in removing cancer from my body. Friday December 15 was the day I was told I was cancer free.

"It has been an emotionally and physically draining seven months but without the support of my friends Lisa Wilson and Tori Martin, along with my mum Lynn Lord and other family and friends, I do not know how I would have come through this.

"The love and support I have been given is something I will never forget. I will now be doing all I can to raise funds and awareness for Target Ovarian Cancer, starting with the fundraiser on January 27. It is a charity close to my heart, along with many others and one that needs constant support."