How charities Helen Rollason, Hummingbird and Cancer Research UK have helped Maddy Kelly in her five-year battle with stage 4 rectal cancer
When Maddy Kelly was diagnosed in 2014 with stage 4 rectal cancer with inoperable liver metastases, she admits her life froze.
In a blog she wrote in 2017 she candidly revealed her body “went into slow mo except for a hamster wheel of black thoughts incessantly whirling round and around”.
The series of blogs was written to encourage people to attend a 'Sawbo Sessions' music night to raise money for three charities close to her heart. And on leap year day a 2020 version of the event will be held at Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall.
Despite the diagnosis more than five years ago, Maddy, of Sawbridgeworth, has lived to fight another day – and fight she does.
When the Indie spoke to her she was 10 days from another gruelling series of chemotherapy sessions to keep the metastases in her lung stable. This follows a break over Christmas that came after 10 rounds of chemo last year and numerous operations since her diagnosis.
Maddy, 51, who has a 17-year-old son and 14-year-old twins, is brutally honest about living with cancer. “Knowing that things can go wrong, it’s like living with a timebomb. It’s like a massive elephant in the room.”
But two charities offer respite. Maddy has reflexology sessions through the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity and help from Hummingbird Cancer Support, and says they are crucial when she is having treatment.
“You're like an uptight spring – you forget it’s OK to breathe.”
In her 2017 blog she elaborates on how she feels when she has the reflexology.
“At the start of each session, it was hard to feel anything; like I said, my life was on hold, I was frozen to emotions. After a while, I relaxed, smiled, dozed, I was comforted and looked after by the gentle practitioner – 30 minutes was over all too fast! What an antidote to the various unpleasant procedures.”
Her gratitude towards Cancer Research UK hints at how she is still here to tell her story.
She was prescribed a new four-drug combination that a clinical trial had shown was more effective than standard treatment.
“Without this trial, I wouldn’t have got this four-drug combination,” said Maddy. “The four-drug combo showed better progression-free survival, better tumour shrinkage, more patients were transformed from inoperable to operable. And it miraculously worked for me.
“I am in awe and I thank all the patients before me that took part – they were really brave. I thank God, any and every god, that this trial was funded in the first place.”
* Sawbo Sessions on Saturday, February 29 features the bands Blues Inc, The Ghias and Lock-In, all of whom have agreed to play for free. Tickets at £10.50 are available from the Memorial Hall website and will be on sale in shops in the town.