Alberta mom dies from cancer weeks after twins' birth
Published Saturday, June 3, 2017 10:00PM EDT
An Alberta mother who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer just weeks after giving birth to twins has left behind a message for other new moms.
Kelly Owchar., a 30-year-old nurse from Airdrie, Alta., gave birth to Leah and Lauren on March 18.
As she described in a lengthy blog post, it was a joyous day for Owchar and her high school sweetheart turned husband, Dwayne.
“Dwayne and I cried when we heard them cry at the warmers and our hearts grew twice as big as we could have ever imagined in that moment,” she wrote.
Two weeks later, Owchar felt a painless lump in her breast. She assumed it was a blocked milk duct.
Owchar felt extremely tired, but thought that was because she was still adjusting to having newborns, along with her active two-year-old son, Eric.
“I was reassured with the same sentiment from those close to me,” she wrote.
“But still something inside me was nagging that this was different,” she added. “I am ashamed to admit the amount of times I fell asleep sitting up while holding a newborn in the night.”
Owchar goes on to state that she believed the fatigue might have been post-partum depression. When she had stomach pains and nausea, she assumed that it was probably caused by an iron supplement.
At her babies’ one-month checkup, Owchar’s doctor examined the lump and then sent her for blood tests.
After that, a breast exam was ordered. Her pains got worse, and the stage-four cancer diagnosis was made on May 15.
She described that life-altering day.
“Dwayne cried,” she wrote. “I just kept saying, ‘But my kids! I’m so young!’”
Owchar died one week after the diagnosis.
Rachel Orbanski, Owchar’s sister, says it was “terrifying and devastating in how quickly (the cancer) went through her body.”
She said that Owchar’s wish was to leave a legacy that included raising awareness of her experiences.
“She wanted to spread awareness that if you’re postpartum, that you’re not immune to cancer, that a lump in the breast doesn’t mean only a blocked milk duct – it could be more serious than that,” Orbanski said.
“It doesn't matter your age,” she added. “It's always a concern.”
Renee Wright, Owchar’s sister, said her sister was not a public person but blogged in the hopes of helping others.
“She had said that she wanted to make good out of the bad that happened to her,” according to Wright.
More than $100,000 has been raised for Dwayne and the three children on the website GoFundMe. A benefit concert is planned for June 21.
Orbanksi said the family is thankful for the support.
With a report from CTV’s Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks