The Casey Family

Kiely Casey out-stretches her arm and lifts the sleeve of her shirt to reveal a tattoo that reads, “Every day is a bonus.” These were the words that her mother, Kaye, spoke as she counted her blessings for each day that she battled stage four cancer of the bowel and liver.

“I was in grade 12 when they told my mom she had four months to live. She was determined to surpass that and see me graduate,” explains Kiely. Her mom, Kaye, only in her fifties, set out to achieve her goal of seeing her youngest daughter graduate by walking every day to stay fit. “Even on her sickest days, she would put on her sneakers and go for a walk.”

Kaye’s disease had progressed so far that doctors weren’t sure about putting her through chemotherapy treatments; but she insisted. As she grew sicker, her perseverance grew stronger.

In 2010, Kaye was the proudest parent in the building as Kiely walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma.

“As sick as she was, her spirits were always so high. She never played a victim,” Kiely reflects. As Kaye continued her daily walking, she continued with her treatments. The professionals at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre told her that she would need to start taking a needle that would increase her white blood cells to help fight off the disease. “The shots cost more than $1,500 for each needle,” Kiely remembers, “The needles weren’t covered by insurance, so without resources like the Cancer Patient Care Fund and Hospice, a large financial strain would have been faced by my whole family.”

The Cancer Patient Care Fund in the Cape Breton Cancer Centre is 100% donor funded and ensures that patients have access to medications, transportation, accommodations and other necessary services that can often be a financial burden. “My mom was so thankful that she took it upon herself to make sure that she did everything she could to give back.”

Kaye began a new journey. Surpassing the time that doctors had given her, she was truly using each day to spread blessings to family, friends and other patients at the Cancer Centre.

“She wanted to walk the 10k at the Bluenose Marathon in Halifax,” her daughter smiles, “We didn’t know that she would make it to my graduation… and here she is months later signing up for the largest marathon in the province.” Kaye’s family and friends supported her. Kaye and two friends linked arms as the bell rang for the start of the Bluenose Marathon on a spring day in May 2011. Step by step they walked 10 kilometers to the finish line.

“Mom didn’t know that my brother, my aunt and I were going to Halifax to surprise her at the finish line.” Kiely describes the joyful look on Kaye’s face as they cheered her on to the end.

Kaye reached another goal. With this goal, she donated more than $5,000 to the Cancer Patient Care Fund.

The experience was motivating for Kaye. She pledged to go back and do the race again in 2012.

Kaye battled over the coming months with her health and passed away one month before the 2012 Bluenose Marathon.

“Do good – not because it looks good, but because it does good,” the words her mother told her spilled from her lips as Kiely described her decision to walk the Marathon in her mother’s memory. “It’s been really difficult to stay positive. I miss her every day. But I knew that if she was around to fundraise and do the walk herself, she would.”

Kiely raised more than $4,000 for the Cape Breton Cancer Centre’s Cancer Patient Care Fund in her mother’s memory. And when asked why she decided to give back, Kiely simply answered, “I did it for her.”

For more information or to donate to the Cancer Patient Care Fund please contact Kelsea MacNeil at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation: macneilkelsea@cbdha.nshealth.ca
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