Two days after her 40th birthday, Kelly discovered why her ribs were hurting

Matt and Kelly with daughters Eve and Isabelle. Tragically, the treatment won't save Kelly, 44, but it will allow her more time to spend with her family.
Matt and Kelly with daughters Eve and Isabelle. Tragically, the treatment won't save Kelly, 44, but it will allow her more time to spend with her family.

A Go Fund Me campaign has raised more than $1000 a day for Kiama doctor Kelly McLean, who has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Every month of treatment costs $5000.

Access to the drug gives Kelly, 44, another month with her husband, Matt, and her two primary school aged girls.

Kelly’s sister Lee Anne moved from Wales to Kiama when the diagnosis came through almost five years ago.

Kelly surrounded by family on her wedding day, just after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Kelly and her husband, Matt, have been together since university, and felt compelled to get married when the diagnosis came through.

Kelly surrounded by family on her wedding day, just after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Kelly and her husband, Matt, have been together since university, and felt compelled to get married when the diagnosis came through.

“Work wouldn't let me come out to Australia for Christmas,” Lee Anne said.

“Kelly told me through a text message, she said, ‘I have good news and bad news, the good news is, you’re going to come out to see me for Christmas, the bad news is, I have cancer.’

“She had rib pain for two to three weeks.

“On the day of her diagnosis, it twigged, it’s not just breast cancer we’re dealing with.”

The cancer had spread to her ribs and spine – two of her rib bones were broken, eaten away by the cancer cells.

I told her, ‘If they can't donate they won't, it’s not that they love you any less.

“Typical Kel hadn’t shared the level of pain she was going through,” Lee Anne said.

“She’s a very special person.

“She’s really kind, full of fun, she has a dry sense of humour which I love and get.

“She’s really ethical, it’s always been about helping others for her, she wants to fix things, that’s why she became a doctor.”

The diagnosis has taken its toll on Kelly’s health, and her husband, Matt.

“Emotionally he’s devastated, Kelly and the girls are his world,” Lee Anne said.

“He’s a fantastic dad, he has done everything he can do.”

Kelly and Matt were reluctant to ask for help from the community and finally caved to Lee Anne’s pleas in June.

“Her real fear was, ‘what if nobody cares?’” Lee Anne said.

“I told her, ‘If they can't donate they won't, it’s not that they love you any less.’”

The family are amazed by the community’s generosity to date, raising more than $5000 in four days.

“It’s just phenomenal,” Lee Anne said.

The aim is to raise $60,000 in total – buying 30 months of treatment with a new cancer drug kisquali.

Kelly’s story as told by her sister Lee Anne

In November 2014, my sister Kelly celebrated her 40th birthday in Canberra surrounded by friends.  As you might expect there was lots of fun and laughter however, as the night wore on her ribs began to hurt. Kelly thought she had pulled a muscle from too much laughing.  

Two days later Kelly sat on her balcony with the same group of friends reeling with shock having just received a diagnosis of breast cancer that had spread to her ribs and spine.  The pain in her ribs was from the spreading breast-cancer cells that had eaten through them causing them to break.  

As you can imagine Kelly was in disbelief, having just celebrated 40 years of life to being given a death sentence.  The extent and spread of her cancer was so great that a total cure was impossible.  Treatment commenced immediately to lengthen her life, so she could spend more time with Matt and her two young daughters, Eve and Isabelle.  How she summoned the courage to explain this to her girls I will never know?  You see the girls are her world, her everything...  

Kelly has suffered through aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy to slow the spread and give her more time.  Her life was put on an accelerated pace.  Despite how sick she was from the chemotherapy, Kelly and Matt tied the knot 4 weeks after diagnosis, desperate to acknowledge their life-long commitment they had made to each back in their University days.  The day after the ceremony, Kelly awoke to a pillow covered with hair, clumps fell out in the shower and she made the brave decision to shave it all off. Whilst the treatment gave her more time, the girls were confronted by the degree of change in mum’s health and her ability to care for them. More terrifyingly, inside six months the cancer cells started to eat through Kelly’s other bones. 

You see Kelly’s cancer cells are pretty stubborn, like her.  Within 6-12 months each new treatment becomes ineffective.  Whilst we are truly thankful for extended time the treatments have given her, the last few years have been incredibly tough on her two little girls and Matthew. 

The latest run of chemotherapy has come with a host of intolerable side effects.  It has meant Kelly is staying alive a little longer, but is missing out on key events in Eve and Isabelle’s lives.  Many of you will be able to imagine this kind of heartbreak. Sadly, the effects of cancer don’t lie with the sufferer alone but with their children, partners and extended family.   Eve and Isabelle are struggling with challenges most other children have no understanding of, nor should they; wondering whether Mum will be here for their birthday or Christmas.  They are desperate for their Mum to stay in their lives, but our government-funded treatment options are exhausted with chemotherapy the last option for a comfortable way to die rather than live.  

But there is another option, to buy Kelly more time.  A new drug, “Kisqali” exists that substantially improves survival rates for metastatic breast cancer by halting progression. This will buy the family more precious time.  More birthdays, awards nights, snuggles on the sofa, kisses before bed and more Mum-time.  Whilst we hate to ask, we really need your help.

Please help us get “Kisqali” for Kelly - our aim is to raise $60,000 to access at least a year of this drug or more if it remains successful for her.  If you feel like you can help, whether it be through a donation, a Facebook share or fundraising ideas we would love to hear from you.  Any amount donated, big or small would be truly awesome.  We remain eternally thankful for the support of friends, family and those touched by Kelly’s struggle to remain in our lives.