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As we mourn the loss of one of our most ardent supporters and volunteers, Kelli Davis, I am left with thoughts of “who will carry on?”. Kelli worked tirelessly to raise awareness of MBC but most importantly to educate about MBC and the desperate need for research funding. She co-founded the Northwest Arkansas Metsquerade with Lisa Quinn and eventually helped create the Metsquerade brand so the event could be reproduced by others. She loved METAvivor and METAvivor loved Kelli. She was one of the most serious and funny people I knew. She laughed at herself, at others and at the disease that was claiming her life. She helped people in the MBC community to understand their diagnosis and to connect them with others living with MBC. She was truly a special person.
One thing Kelli was adamant about was the need for more MBC research. She worked tirelessly speaking about this topic and raising funds for MBC research. It was the priority. She knew it was the only way to end death from MBC. In her last year, her MBC had mutated to triple negative. There aren’t very many treatments for triple negative MBC and it can be so aggressive. That was just one of her many reasons for keeping the priority squarely focused on MBC research.
Since the pandemic, it seams that many have forgotten how important MBC research truly is to our community. There are many very meaningful MBC programs and new organizations that were created during this time, but the bottom line is that we need to keep our eye on the priority; not get distracted. The priority must be MBC research if any of us are to survive. New treatment discoveries may prolong life but they do not end death from MBC.
Kelli had been on my mind every day since I had heard from her fiancé, Justin. He told me she was released to home hospice and was getting weaker. I had sent text messages of encouragement and love but it seemed so…irrelevant, I guess. Kelli had a rough couple years. Her MBC had mutated to triple negative and there just weren’t many enough treatment options. She had treatment reactions and it left her barely able to walk. As I watched this person who had mentored so many, slowly slip away. I became sad for the MBC community. How could we go on, push forward, without her? How?
Then, I started reading messages she had sent me over the years. Perspective is interesting. When you are in the middle of something, a message can look like an answer to a question. But, when you look back, that same message has so many other meanings, like encouragement, strength, opportunity humor and love. So instead of feeling sorry for METAvivor to have lost her or sad for myself. I decided to share perspective. Kelli’s perspective and wisdom as documented in text message.
Kelli never said “no”:
Me: Will you work on the Patient Engagement Steering Committee?
Kelli: That sounds like a lot….I mean… Of Course I will. I am super excited about the opportunity.
Me: Will you post from the RV about the sponsors?
Kelli: Yes! And a million times!
Me: Oh no. Are you watching Good Morning America?
Kelli: I’m on it. No more pinkwashing GMA!
Me: Are you going to YSC? Can you help at the table?
Kelli: No I cannot go to YSC this time but, I’ll reach out on social and get some help.
Me: Thank you! Again.
Kelli always found a way to lift you up, even if she was down.
“You are one of my sheroes! This year is going to be great for METAvivor! Research must be the priority!”
Kelli felt research was the number one priority for MBC and was always spinning ideas she had. She told me she had heard so many people say that MBC was a chronic disease and it made her angry. She always said “it is terminal disease until we stop dying!”. So she came up with “META “Why” vor” campaign.
“We need to do a META”Why”vor campaign. We need to tell everyone not to be fooled. We aren’t done yet! I feel like the universe is tugging us backward. We are on the clock! It makes me mad. Research is so important”
There are so many special moments with her. She was so funny, fun, tough, smart, passionate and had a positive outlook even when it was difficult.
So, for Kelli and for every person living with metastatic breast cancer. We are not quitting. We will continue to fund stage IV metastatic breast cancer research.
It is hard every time there is a loss from MBC but today…today is exceptionally hard. Dear Kelli, You are our META “Why” Vor! Fly High Kelli Davis! You made history (herstory) and your memory will span generations!