An Alberta family is mourning the loss of a new mother who died of breast cancer just two months after giving birth to twins.
Kelly Owchar, a 30-year-old Airdrie, Alta. nurse, died on May 22, her family told CTV News, only a week after her diagnosis.
Her sister, Rachel Orbanski, told the broadcaster the cancer was just “terrifying and devastating in how quickly it went through her body.”
Owchar wrote on her blog that after her twins Lauren and Leah were born in March, she was extremely tired. She chalked it up to the effort of caring for two newborns and her toddler, Eric.
Kelly and Dwayne Ochar, son Eric, and daughters Leah and Lauren.
“I was reassured with the same sentiment from those close to me; my mother, mother in law, sisters, friends,” she wrote. But still something inside me was nagging that this was different.”
She also noticed a painless lump in her left breast that she thought was a blocked milk duct as well as stomach pain and spasms.
But while she eventually underwent a biopsy, she was distracted from waiting for the results because her daughter Leah ended up in intensive care with a respiratory infection.
Then on May 15, Owchar learned she had stage-four invasive breast cancer that had metastasized to her liver. There was no cure.
“Kelly was such a beautiful soul — so kind, generous, and always found something to laugh or smile about,”
— Amy Ball
“[My husband] Dwayne cries, I am in shock," she wrote. "I don’t know what to say or ask. I just kept saying ‘but my kids! I’m so young!’”
She wrote that she was grateful for the fast treatment and hoped she’d be able to fight the disease.
“I only hope I will get to be a part of many memories with my children and that my husband and I can grow old together like we always dreamed.”
She died a week later.
Kelly and her husband Dwayne.
But while she wrote on her blog after learning of her diagnosis that she wasn’t looking for handouts, people who have heard her story have come out in droves to support her family.
A GoFundMe campaign started before her death has raised more than $116,000 so far.
“Kelly was such a beautiful soul — so kind, generous, and always found something to laugh or smile about,” wrote Amy Ball.
A benefit concert and silent auction will also be held on June 21 in Calgary.
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The Calgary Breast Health Program's medical director, Dr. May Lynn Quan, told Global News that it's normal for breastfeeding women to find breast lumps. They should only be worried if the lumps aren't painful.
Owchar would also want women not to dismiss cancer symptoms after they give birth, her sister Renee Wright told Global.
“If you suspect anything, make sure you get checked out,” she said.
“Don’t make assumptions that it's just because of pregnancy, that was really Kelly’s message.”