In March of 2015 I was pregnant with my second child and due to have her in 6 weeks. I was beyond excited to meet my little girl. At this point in my pregnancy I had started visiting my doctor every other week. A few weeks earlier, I had noticed some tenderness and hardness to the outside of my left breast but thought it was my breasts starting to change and get ready for breast feeding. After a week, I realized the same hardness and tenderness was not happening on my right breast. I started to get a little concerned.
At my next Doctor's appointment, I asked her to take a look. She thought it was nothing but still figured it was smart to get it checked out. At an ultrasound the next day, they found a large hard mass and made an appointment for me to come in the following day for a biopsy.
The night before the biopsy I checked myself all over (of course who wouldn’t) and I realized there was also a lump in my armpit. So when I went into my biopsy they took a sample of my breast and armpit area.
The next day, Friday, I learned I had Breast Cancer. I was still waiting for all my tests to come back, but by early the next week I would learn I had Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
When something like this happens, the question of WHY starts to run through your mind. Why me at 36 years old? Why me having a 15 month old son? Why me 6 weeks away from giving birth to my daughter? Why me -- a healthy woman, who ran a marathon and tries to eat organic as much as possible and uses natural products? WHY WHY WHY??????
The next thing that runs through your mind is am I going to die? Will my children know me? Will they remember me? Once you deal with that, you think: How do I kick cancer's A$$!?!
In those next few months, I received two chemo treatments and then was induced to deliver my daughter. I gave birth to my daughter Anna on Monday, had a blood transfusion on Wednesday and had Chemo on Friday.
I finished chemo in July, had surgery in August and finished Radiation treatments in November! And as of August 7th I was 1 year Cancer Free. I know my body is strong enough to conquer anything!
After my cancer diagnosis, I felt passionate about starting a business that educates, builds community and shares beautiful products. I knew 50 hour work weeks in Corporate Marketing was not going to be my future forever. My sister Leah, an Oncology Nurse, and I decided to open a clean, nontoxic beauty boutique, called SaltyGirl Boutique, in Kennebunk, Maine.
Clean beauty is something I have always believed strongly in, having started my career for Tom’s of Maine. We rub, lather and slather our bodies with an average of 11 products daily which can include over 100 different ingredients. Many of us care deeply about what we put into our bodies but we forget to care as deeply about what we put onto our bodies--our skin is our largest organ.
Along with our boutique we started a non-profit called Foundation4Love where a percentage of our profits are given to adults going through cancer treatment for a night out with their spouse, a spa day with best friends, a baseball game with their family . . . whatever allows that person to unplug from their cancer and plug into those they love.
With everything a cancer victim is dealing with, including the expenses, the first thing you give up is time for yourself and your relationship with the ones closest to you. I accepted so much kindness from my friends and family--kindness that was sometimes hard to accept, but kindness that I needed to make it through the Cancer Journey. Foundation4Love is our way to pay that generosity forward!
From diagnosis to becoming a mom (again) to starting a company, breast cancer left its mark on my life. Now, however, I have the knowledge and freedom that comes from having experienced vulnerability and coming out healthy on the other side.
Images courtesy of Joshua Atticks / Lifesessions Photography.
Sarah Kelly is a 1-year cancer survivor and lives by the ocean in the lovely Kennebunk, Maine with her husband and 2 kids ( 2.5 year old son and 18 month old daughter). She feels blessed that she is able to share her story and love of beauty wellness with her community.
To learn more visit the SaltyGirl Website at or follow @SaltyGirlBotique on Facebook or Instagram.