For more than a year, Kelli Richmond shared her journey battling stage 3 ovarian cancer with The Advocate’s readers. On Wednesday, she lost that battle at the age of 30 with her family at her side.
Richmond’s faith was part of the armor she donned for this battle.
She shared with the newspaper the Bible passage she read every day:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” — Philippians 4:6-9
In the last installment of the series, which ran in March 2011, Richmond had opted to take a break from treatment after getting a good report from her latest PET scan.
Several months later, scans revealed what everyone had hoped was scar tissue was in fact cancer. She resumed chemotherapy but suffered with gastrointestinal problems.
“Well this is a blog I wasn’t expecting to write anytime soon, but the good Lord seems to always have different plans than I do. I found out today that I never experienced remission, and the small amount of stubborn disease that was left slowly spread over the past two months,” she wrote in her blog, “What Comes After C?” “While I had the highest of hopes that I was done with the Big C for good, I have come to terms with the fact that I will likely live with cancer indefinitely.
“Before you start to cry or get all sappy on me, notice I said LIVE with cancer. If being cancer free isn’t in my stack of cards, I will happily take living with cancer over dying from cancer any day of the week. So let’s rejoice in the fact that God has blessed me with a manageable disease, and not curse the fact that the disease is present. I try to always look at the glass half full, and when it comes to my battle with this beast, it is full of blessings.”
Last October, things took another turn for the worse. Richmond underwent exploratory surgery which revealed that the cancer had metastasized to the lining of her abdomen and intestines. She then had to have her colon, large intestines and a portion of the small intestines removed. Richmond spent four weeks in the hospital after these two surgeries.
One month after celebrating her 30th birthday this past January, a scan revealed more cancer. Her doctors gave her the news that the cancer was untreatable. Unwilling to admit defeat, Richmond sought holistic treatment at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston. It proved a futile effort.
“It was a privilege to walk with her over the few years as she struggled with her illness,” said the Rev. Kattie McKay Simpson, an associate pastor at Richmond’s church, First United Methodist who also grew up with her. “She kept the faith in the midst of hard questions and was a model for seeking peace in her soul in a difficult time ... she focused on making a difference, and hopefully we will remember that about her and try and focus on the difference we can make.”
“I want people to know how much she was loved,” said mom Patsy Richmond. “She was such an inspiration to so many people she didn’t even know. She lived life to the fullest until about six months ago.”
“Don’t mourn her, celebrate her,” added sister Kristen. “She always said, ‘Put on your big girl panties, you have 10 minutes for a pity party and that’s it!”
“I had a good talk with her the night before she passed,” said dad Ron Richmond. “She said don’t worry Daddy; she didn’t want anyone to worry.”
And, like the “warrior” she was, Richmond left this world with a big smile on her face.
A memorial service celebrating Richmond’s life will be held today at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. In lieu flowers, the family requests donations to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
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