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Kelly's painful past and dreams for the future

Thursday 21 November, 2019

After bone cancer treatment left Kelly infertile, she needed IVF to realise her dream of being a mum. Now Kelly’s biggest wish is that her little girl will never have to experience the pain and lasting impact of cancer treatment.

Kelly faithfully kept a record of everything that happened after the initial diagnosis, chronicling the details of her story in a cancer scrapbook.



One night in 2000, I had excruciating stomach pain and dad took me to the hospital. The doctors listened to my chest and heard the fluid on my left lung. They took a sample of the fluid and a couple of days later I was told I had cancer.

Chest xray

Kelly sitting on a chair

Ewing's Sarcoma is a cancer which can start in the bone or soft tissues. I had a tumour on my left 10th rib. It was 5cm by 7cm in size. I had chemo, radiation and the rib removed.


Chemotherapy not only destroys the cancer cells, but also the good cells in your bone marrow as they reproduce rapidly (as your hair does, hence why it falls out).

My hair started falling out in April. Dad cut it very short but during the night it became all matted, so it had to be cut off. When it did come back, it was curlier and black.

Kelly in hospital

Kelly reading a book

Radiation and chemo had affected my body dramatically. Around May 2001 I found out I was producing oestrogen, but my brain was telling my ovaries not to work. I went through early menopause then started on Hormone Replacement Therapy. August 2001, tests showed a part of my spine had become much weaker, another possible side effect of radiation.


My first full day back at school was Monday, 5 February 2001. I still had my feeding tube in. I also had a drop foot, which meant my leg tendons had been shortened by a chemo drug. As a result, I walked on my tippy toes until they were operated on in April.


Kelly cutting a cake


Remission! In 2001, the doctors told me I was in remission, and we had a party and celebrated. I went back to school full-time in February the next year. After you’re used to the hospital routine, it was sort of hard to get back into normal life.


Me now, with my husband Matthew and our beautiful daughter Amelia. Through the help of IVF, we were able to realise our dream of being parents. Despite all that I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t give any of it up, because then I wouldn’t have Amelia in my life.

Kelly's family

Thanks to a promising research project led by Associate Professor Hawkins, we are very close to making this mum’s Christmas wish come true.


A/Prof Hawkins (fourth from left) and her research team at La Trobe University.

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer. It mainly affects children and teens, and current treatments can leave survivors, like Kelly, with lifelong side effects.

A new class of anti-cancer agents known as “SMAC mimetics” are being tested on osteosarcoma cells. Early tests have shown that it can be effective in causing the cancer cells to die.

Your support can help cancer research like this reach clinical trials sooner, where real breakthroughs can be made.

Donate to cancer research this Christmas. Help make Kelly's wish for better treatments come true. 


Donate now

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