Kellie initiated BROWN GIRL AND BRCA PLUS to spread awareness about genetic testing and offer a view of the BRCA experience from a person of color’s perspective.
Follow Kellie on Instagram @browngirlandbrcaplus
Kellie is a married, mother of two, BCRA1 previvor and the daughter of a two-time breast cancer survivor. Kellie recently had a mastectomy and a hysterectomy (2/21/2018) and is excited to be on the other side of recovery. She enjoys traveling, thrift shopping and sharing her experiences via her blog (browngirlandbrcaplus.com) and Instagram. Kellie initiated BROWN GIRL AND BRCA PLUS to spread awareness about genetic testing and offer a view of the BRCA experience from a person of color’s perspective.IG: @browngirlandbrcaplus
1. Tell me a time when you were your happiest?
I must be honest, my first review of the questions gave me pause, as I’m not really certain I had ever thought about what “happiness” looks like for me. I wake up, I do, I be, I sleep and wake up and do it all over again the next day. I considered giving the standard answers for my happiest day(s), “the day I got married, the day I had my kids, the day I graduated”, but I wasn’t convinced that those were the truest answers. I joked to a friend, “what would make me happiest?” – a clean garage. “What doesn’t make me happy?” – these questions. I didn’t realize that it was a cathartic exercise that I sorely needed. It gave me a moment to slow down, to reflect and to purge my mind and search my heart. Thank you, Shirley and Women Empowerneurs for the opportunity…now on to the things!
2. How did you know what you wanted to do in life?
I think that I’m still trying to figure that out. I feel like I’m in “the zone” when I’m planning something, anything…a day trip, a party, family vacations…that’s my sweet spot. I love the idea of shaping and forming nothingness into a great adventure or a perfect event. If I could do something fulltime, that absolutely wouldn’t feel like a “job”, I would likely do event planning. I would love to do that.
3. What is your greatest struggle right now?
I am presently working on my doctorate and I am super close to reaching the research phase of the process. There are days that I feel like I am running in place and it can be wholly disheartening. I can see the finish line so clearly, but my efforts don’t often match my desires. There’s so much heavy lifting to do and it requires a daily mettle assessment (and frequent peptalks!), but it CAN be done. It WILL be done.
4. What advice would you give your younger self?
I know it’s cliche… but “don’t sweat the small stuff” (and it’s all small stuff). I’ll never get back the hours I’ve wasted worrying about things that I couldn’t change. I would worry less and travel more. I wish that I had been more spontaneous in my younger years, less measured. I always overthink! I am slowly learning to care less about what people say and/or think and I wish that I had adopted this practice much sooner. It’s liberating! I am still unpacking qualities about myself daily and there are so many layers…it’s all wonderful to discover and explore. I really like my older self.
5. What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness is finding joy in the small things. Like, having a clean garage!
6. How do you define your happiness?
I am blessed to be a part of a tight-knit family. In my younger years, I took that for granted and considered their involvement “meddling” (and annoying!), but the older I get I cherish their thoughts, ideas and concerns. I am most complete when we are all together and while the mixing of personalities can sometimes be a challenge, there is nothing like family. The strength of my family has simultaneously kept me grounded and made me feel like I can soar. My happiness is rooted in my connection to all of them.
7. Is there a specific story you would like to share?
If someone had told me a year ago that my life would change after a mastectomy, I would have assumed they meant “physically”, but the physical change has had the most minimal impact. Instead, it is all the wonderful things that I have gained…strength…courage..that have shaped this experience and continues to empower me daily. Through this process, I have joined an amazing sisterhood, a group of women that “get it” and spend their days engaging and informing others and now I am one of them. Through all of this, I believe that I have uncovered the truest version of myself and my sincerest passion. I wake each day, more encouraged to keep going, to keep sharing and to keep spreading awareness about the importance of genetic testing…that makes me happy.
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