Hundreds of tributes to a “truly amazing woman” have been received on Facebook after a mother-of-five from Billington succumbed to cancer after a determined and inspirational fight.
Kellie Rea (38) was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2013, undergoing treatment including a gruelling course of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy.
Married to Nigel, Kellie, of Painter Wood, was mum to Ben (23), Joe (22), Sam (19), Shannon (15) and Michael (13).
After being given the all-clear in July 2014, Kellie decided to follow her dreams and opened her own successful business in the centre of Clitheroe, which she called The Shake Shack.
The thriving milkshake and smoothie business was testament to Kellie’s vision, every detail of the shop, menu and design was meticulously planned to her high standards.
After developing new symptoms early last year, the family was given the news that Kellie’s cancer had returned and also spread. After being told that she would not be able to withstand another course of chemotherapy so soon, Kellie assured husband Nigel that she was up for the fight of her life.
I am so proud to have been married to such a compassionate and loved womanNigel Rea
Nigel said: “In typical, stubborn fashion, Kellie dealt with the initial upset, shrugged her shoulders and told me that she would prove the doctor wrong and would undergo another full course of chemo, even if it killed her.
“It caused great complications and I’m quite sure that at times, she hid things from us in order to receive the full course of treatment. In fact, the last two cycles saw her admitted to hospital needing full blood transfusions. Her body was exhausted, but she had the full six cycles, and we were over the moon to say the least, when a scan showed there was no longer any evidence of the disease in her body.”
But in another tragic turn of events, Kellie once again began to experience pain and scans showed more evidence of even wider spread cancer, this time many of her organs and bones showing signs of the disease. After more chemotherapy, Kellie was told that the cancer was now fully resistant to chemotherapy.
Throughout the darkest of times, fun and laughter was provided wherever possible, both by Kellie herself and by her courageous family.
Nigel continued: “Just before we were given the worst of news, we had all made sure that Kellie had the best Christmas ever. She complained that we never got carol singers calling at the house, as we live on a quiet lane, so our daughter Shannon organised for the choir from her old primary school to come and hold a carol service in our living room.
“As she deteriorated in the early weeks of this year, we had massive help from East Lancashire Hospice and the local OT team, kitting out the house so Kellie could make it home to celebrate her 38th birthday right where she wanted to be, with her family and her lifelong friend Dawn and daughter Karleigh. Her mum Ellie was also able to visit.
“We had a great day with balloons, cakes, banners, the works and it was perfect. The morning after, Kellie’s condition deteriorated and she died in my arms in the living room, looking into my eyes and with the beautiful view of the Ribble Valley visible from our window.”
Kellie’s spirit and zest for life have been commented on by many of her friends and by many more who knew of her courageous fight, as has been illustrated by the massive outpouring of admiration on Facebook, with, said Nigel, many fellow sufferers having been supported by Kellie, even at the worst times of her own illness.
“What really kept her going was helping others. Kellie was a member of many groups of cancer sufferers and offered help, encouragement and support to other ladies with breast cancer right up to the day she died. I am learning that she was considered a rock by so many and put her own problems to one side to help and advise. I am so proud to have been married to such a compassionate and loved woman.”
l Kellie’s funeral will take place on Monday at Pleasington Crematorium at 3-45pm. Cars will leave the Rea family home at 3pm for anyone wishing to follow. Kellie left strict instructions that everyone dressed how she knew them – casual with bright colours essential. The funeral will be followed by drinks and food at The Alexandra on Dukes Brow, Blackburn. Details of, and donations to two charity pursuits in Kellie’s memory can be found at justgiving.com/fundraising/nigerea1 and justgiving.com/fundraising/dawnduggan2