Breast Cancer 2 Bikini: Kelly Albright-Thiele
Our Breast Cancer 2 Bikini series continues with a woman forced to make a personal and difficult decision to remove both her breasts, as a way to help prevent the return of cancer. How Kelly Albright-Thiele is taking back control of her body post-cancer in Health Watch.
Kelly Albright-Thiele has created some amazing memories in her life. In 2003, she married her sweetheart, Bradly. They then welcomed a son and daughter into this world. The beautiful family has thrived in northern Nevada, but life hasn’t always been picture perfect. In 2009, when Kelly’s children were just two and four years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was diagnosed at the age of 31. My lymph nodes in my armpit were like golf balls." Bradley recalls what it felt like hearing the news. "Thinking about yourself as a young, single father - widowed at not even 40 years old yet. That's a very scary thing to think about."
Treatment was grueling and aggressive. Kelly remained strong for her kids and didn't hide anything. "I didn't wear a wig,” she explains as she thumbs through a scrapbook full of pictures. “Here I am a bridesmaid with my port and no hair." Kelly was transparent about her treatment plans, too. "I had a double radical mastectomy where they took me all the way down to my chest wall. So I woke up with nothing." For six months after surgery she wore expanders to prepare for reconstruction.
A vigilant Kelly still meets with her doctors and plastic surgeon. However, she's also taking her fitness to a whole new level. Kelly is part of the Breast Cancer to Bikini group. When she learned Evoke Fitness' Mena Spodobalski was offering to train the survivors for their first fitness competition, Kelly stepped up to the challenge as a way to take back control of her body. "I want to do this. I'm choosing to do this, and I have the power to do it because now I can." She works out with the group three times a week and does cardio regularly on her own. It is a lot of time, energy and dedication, but Kelly considers her training a gift and hopes to use the fitness competition as a platform to inspire others. "Hopefully we'll give them the strength or power to go, ‘You know what, if they can do it - I can, too.’"