Toni Kelly is very special member of our family, a dear friend to many and a giving member to the Roxbury Community. As you read her story of battling stage 4 cancer over the past five years it won't take you long to see she is one of the bravest and strongest individuals you will meet. But behind that strength is a woman with a kind heart and a caring soul. She is a caregiver to so many but at this time she is in need of our care. She is loved so deeply by each member of her family. The financial burden of medical expenses has gotten extremely challenging. Toni is beyond humbled and grateful for this fundraising campaign. This is our way to help with the financial burden as Toni focuses on her health and battle with cancer. Any amount of giving would be greatly appreciated. We also ask for your prayers for Toni and her family. Below you will find Toni's story, so please consider joining "Toni's Team."
The path I’ve traveled through illness has been a long and arduous journey. It started in November 2011 with a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. I experienced stabbing back pain for a few years and had been speaking with my doctor about it. After a misdiagnosis of pleurisy, the pain moved to my leg and hip and tests were performed on the veins in my leg. These tests showed nothing and I was referred to a bone specialist. Finally, an MRI revealed Stage 4 bone cancer of the spine and neck. My bones were being eaten away and were so brittle that a cough or certain movements could have caused breakage. The doctors quickly had to establish a course of action – either treatment or surgery – and both were crucial. They decided on surgery first. My entire spine from the neck all the way to the bottom of the back was rebuilt with metal rods and screws. The pain I experienced was excruciating and I was unable to get out of bed for an entire month. Shortly thereafter, however, the doctors determined it was vital to now proceed with surgery to repair my hip, which had also disintegrated. Within a few weeks of the surgery I began physical therapy. The pain I previously experienced paled in comparison to what I endured during therapy.
Within a few weeks I began the second course of treatment – radiation to shrink the tumors and chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer. Finally, within approximately one year of my initial diagnosis, the last phase of the journey began – a bone marrow transplant. Once again I received large doses of chemo to prepare my body for the procedure. Afterwards, I was very sick for over a month and did not have enough strength to go home, so I was discharged to Hackensack Rehabilitation Center. Eventually I was able to go home, however this was not without challenges. There is a large flight of stairs leading to the main floor of my home and another flight to access my bedroom. Although my family moved my bedroom to the main floor, today I still have difficulty navigating any stairs.
At this point, the maintenance program began that I continue to this day. I see an oncologist at Morristown Hospital every other month and receive an IV of bone strengthener and cancer drug, as well as a B-12 shot. In addition, I see the oncologist at Hackensack Hospital every three months. I have other health problems and also see an endocrinologist, pulmonologist and cardiologist. I will need another bone marrow transplant in the future. The expenses related to my care are astronomical. My medications are very costly and I continue to have complications, which result in additional hospitalizations. Our insurance has very high co-pays and my husband’s job in the construction field is sporadic, which forces us to utilize COBRA during his lay-offs. We want so much to remain in our home, but even that is difficult with so many expenses.
While this journey has been grueling, I have a wonderful family support system and am thankful for each and every person who has helped me. Thank you and God bless all of you. Words can’t express all of my appreciation. I love you with all of my heart and will fight this terrible disease as best as I can.