"I just bawled": Aurora woman celebrates first Mother's day during the fight of her life
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CHICAGO (CBS) — An Aurora woman is celebrating her first Mother’s Day in the middle of the fight of her life.

CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek introduces us to a family full of strength, resilience, and love.

This is Chris Kelly’s favorite picture of his wife, Alyssa. Taken at Northwestern Hospital the morning after their worlds shook from the blunt force of just a few words.

“When they said you have stage 4 colon cancer, I put the sheet over my head and I just bawled,” Alyssa said.

Alyssa was 38 years old and 26 weeks pregnant. The cancer, they learned, was inoperable, having already spread to her liver and lungs.

“I remember being in the hospital and just watching her sleep. She was pregnant, she had a big belly (laughs), Colin was growing inside of her and there’s like cancer inside of her. It was just unreal,” Chris said.

While the couple tried to wrap their minds around an uncertain future, they were also forced to reckon with the past. For years, Alyssa had struggled with what she believed was irritable bowel syndrome.

“It was always just unconfirmed IBS from her doctor. You know the blood in her stool was hemorrhoids they said but they never actually did a real test,” Chris said.

Early in her pregnancy, those symptoms seemed to accelerate and intensify.

“We just thought maybe it was morning sickness or pregnancy symptoms.”

But as Alyssa’s pain worsened, the couple pushed for answers.

“You gotta realize the doctor has like 500 patients. They have so many patients, but you know, she’s my one wife so it’s like, she means everything,” he said. 

When the diagnosis came, Alyssa and Chris say they wished they could have gone back, but there was only the road ahead.

Alyssa began chemotherapy before leaving the hospital, receiving six rounds of treatment before giving birth to Colin via C-section on August 24, 2021.

“When I’m with him, I don’t think about my health issues. I think about my baby boy, and I would tell to Chris, you know what, it’s a beautiful day, let’s go to a park. Let’s go do something fun. Since I feel good enough and well enough, let’s just go ahead and do it,” Alyssa said.

In the unpredictability of her illness, the family has learned to savor the good. Like when Alyssa had a great response to second-line chemo, which opened the door for her inoperable cancer to be operated on later this month in California.

“As terrible as all this is, just seeing her a mom is, it’s the greatest thing ever. It’s like the greatest and worst thing at the same time,” Chris said.

For Alyssa, Chris, and Colin, this first Mother’s Day will be one to savor.

Alyssa and Chris say their family and friends have stepped up to support them in an incredible way. If you’d also like to help, visit their GoFundMe page. 

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