Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin is a multi-published novelist and former newspaper reporter who worked in public relations for more than 20 years. She retired from her day job in 2016 after being diagnosed with primary lateral sclerosis, a degenerative motor neuron disease, and stage 4 ovarian cancer. She spends her days writing and loving her family.


As I Begin Another Year of Cancer Treatment, I Struggle Over Why I’m Still Here and Others Aren’t

January 22, 2022

A patient with stage 4 ovarian cancer still receiving treatment six years after her first diagnosis explains that even though she’s exhausted from all her treatments and the related side effects, she knows many others don’t survive as long as she has.

Patient With Cancer Answers Common Questions and Dispels Myths About Clinical Trials

October 20, 2021

The number one reason to participate in a clinical trial is because someone has to do it so new drugs can be developed to treat and even cure cancer. All of the drugs we have now were made possible by patients who were brave enough to try those drugs.

Patients With Cancer Deserve Respect, Civility and a Voice in Their Treatment

October 06, 2021

Health care isn’t something that is done to you. You participate in it. You’re part of the team. If your team is letting you down, say so. If they don’t do better, consider seeking health care providers who do include you in the conversation.

PET Scan Stirs Old Memories, Prompts New Dreams for Patient With Cancer

August 18, 2021

There’s been joy in the journey, along with the drugs, the endless waiting in chilly waiting rooms, the lab work, shaving my head twice, the CT scans every three months and the steady hum of anxiety in my brain. The time with my husband, kids and grandkids has made it worth every minute of cancer treatment. Bring it on, cancer.

Making Room for Miracles And Modern Medicine as a Patient With Stage 4 Cancer

July 20, 2021

“I could’ve implemented my bucket list, backed away from writing contracts, outlined my end-of-life wishes and prepared my children for my possible, impending demise,” writes a woman with ovarian cancer. “Instead, I signed a four-book publishing contract and started a full-time career as a fiction writer.”

When Oncologists Retire, Their Patients Must Learn to Embrace Change

May 06, 2021

“We’re all blessed that there are so many dedicated, caring health care professionals willing to step in and fill the void when members of the team move or retire,” writes a patient with cancer. “We can never forget how tough a gig it is or say thank you enough.”

Cancer Treatment Sucks, Even When it Works

April 05, 2021

It makes sense to take stock of cancer treatment — its physical, emotional, and spiritual cost, and what people want out of life going forward. Here, a patient with cancer writes how It’s OK to say, “Cancer treatment sucks and I hate it, even when the big prize, our buddy NED, has taken up residence in our bodies.”

Celebrating A ‘Cancerversary’ In A COVID-19 World

January 16, 2021

It’s okay for me to not feel like celebrating my 5-year cancerversary in a world that is upside down and backward because of COVID-19. Yes, I’m grateful and blessed, but I’m not bullet-proof. I’m human. I don’t have to feel guilty. None of us do.

How COVID-19 Robs Patients with Cancer of Their Precious Time

October 06, 2020

Time is a valuable commodity, especially for patients with cancer who may find themselves with limited time or limited free time to enjoy the things they loved prior to their cancer. But the COVID-19 pandemic is robbing patients of that precious time.

Make Exercise Work For You

January 29, 2020

Maintaining a good self-image in the face of body changes caused by cancer and chemotherapy is tough. However, exercise was able to boost one cancer patient’s morale and self-image.

Appreciating The Gift of Time is the Best New Year Resolution For This Cancer Patient

January 15, 2020

Patients with cancer are acutely aware of how time is finite, and that's ok. They can appreciate the fit of time all the better.

Tips for Navigating Health Care After a Cancer Diagnosis

October 08, 2019

An ovarian cancer survivor shares what she wishes she had known then with those who are newly diagnosed.

Treating Metastatic Cancer as a Chronic Disease Takes Its Toll

September 11, 2019

"I’m a work in progress. I work to heed my oncologist’s advice: Don’t spoil today by worrying about tomorrow."

A Letter to My Newly Diagnosed Self

May 08, 2019

A second ovarian cancer recurrence in three years prompted this review of lessons learned. If I could go back three and a half years and give advice to my newly diagnosed self, what would I say?

Ovarian Cancer Screening Tool Should be a Top Research Priority

March 21, 2019

Did we bring this scary, painful, financially draining monster into our lives by eating too many cookies and not doing enough jumping jacks? We need a reliable diagnostic screening tool for ovarian cancer and we need it now.

Cancerversary Prompts Top 10 List of Lessons Learned

January 09, 2019

Rather than revisiting the ghosts of cancer treatments past, I’m focused on using what I’ve learned in three years of active treatment and maintenance for incurable, metastatic cancer.

To Test or Not To Test: A Thorny Question in Ovarian Cancer Maintenance

September 18, 2018

Researchers disagree on whether or not to monitor ovarian cancer survivors with frequent CA-125 tests. But this patient would rather have more information than less.

Treatment for Cancer's Twin Ailment: Financial Toxicity

July 19, 2018

The health care experts call it financial toxicity. I call it an agonizing, stress-inducing, horrifying choice between financial ruin and treatment of a life-threatening disease.

Bogus Cancer Cures Feed on Fear

May 10, 2018

Believe me, if I thought a baking soda solution would cure my cancer, I’d be first in line. It’s cheap and it won’t make my hair fall out, make me vomit or send my white blood count spiraling down.

Making Metastatic Cancer Fears Work for Me

April 24, 2018

So, what was the first thing I thought about when I vowed to not think about cancer? Cancer, of course.

'Cancerversary' and Looking Back on Lessons Learned

January 17, 2018

Some patients refer to this as their cancerversary. With two years in the rear-view mirror, I’m calling it my Everything-From-Here-On-Out-Is-Gravy Day.

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for People with Metastatic Cancer

December 31, 2017

Let's recognize time as the gift it is, and chart a course for making 2018 really count.

How to Win Cancer Limbo Through Celebration

December 19, 2017

Should I be planning big, celebratory trips or my funeral? My fears may not be rational, but they're real.

Self-Image and Cancer: Seeing the New, Better You

December 14, 2017

No matter how cancer makes you look, you’re still you—a better you.

Tips for Staying Sane While Dealing With Insurance

November 14, 2017

People with cancer have to gear up for the emotional and mental workout of dealing with insurance. Here are some tips for coping.

Putting Fear of Recurrence Aside by Living Passionately

October 02, 2017

For patients with metastatic cancer, NED times are often overshadowed by their lurking disease waiting to pounce and return. Here are some thoughts on living life passionately, both during treatment and while NED

What Ovarian Cancer Taught Me About Myself and Others

September 12, 2017

Ovarian cancer is a hard taskmaster, but cancer teaches us important life, faith and family lessons

Learn to Speak Cancer's Foreign Language

August 21, 2017

Cancer treatment may seem to involve a mysterious, unfathomable foreign language, but there are ways to improve those lines of communication.

Cancer and Hair Loss Is More Than Physical

August 08, 2017

Losing their hair is one more way that cancer makes patients feel they've lost control over their bodies. It's not just physical, it's personal. Here are some tips for what to say.

Choice of Words Are Important for Cancer Ninjas

August 01, 2017

I see myself as a cancer ninja. Other cancer patients might prefer a gentler word. Either way, words are important and the choice should be ours.