Kelly Moyer already left her mark on Robbinsville. Now, the township is returning the favor.
Moyer, 27, was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer earlier this year. After a GoFundMe fundraiser was established to help her and her family cover treatment costs and other expenses, community members immediately started chipping in.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Susan Moyer, Kelly’s mom, said. “We’re overwhelmed and filled with positivity and hope. I’m always amazed by people reaching out and expressing concern. We have a great community.”
Kelly, a Robbinsville native, gave a lot to the community as a student. She was an active Girl Scout, earning her Silver and Gold awards, and as a student at Pond Road Middle School, she helped paint the knight mural in the school’s entryway. She was also a member of the first full four-year graduating class at Robbinsville High School.
Names from all of those communities have popped up on the GoFundMe donor list, Kelly said.
“It’s really heartwarming to see so many names I recognize from my class, from my brothers’ classes,” she said.
This path, though, started last November. Kelly felt a lump on her breast and went to her gynecologist to get it checked out. He told her it was likely to be a fibroadenoma, a benign breast lump that most often occurs in young women. Just to be sure, though, he sent her for further testing.
A biopsy was initially scheduled for February. But on the way there, Kelly was rear-ended. The aftermath of the accident took nearly an hour, and when she was finally able to call the hospital and explain what happened, she was told the doctor had gone home for the day.
And then COVID happened. That postponed her biopsy even further—into August. She was given her diagnosis later that month.
“That was the most difficult part of the diagnosis because I did feel kind of led on for a huge amount of time,” Kelly said. “But there was also a part of me that knew it was cancer. The lump had gotten to big in such a short amount of time. Even when I wasn’t able to go in for the tests, I knew it wasn’t the same size lump from November. There’s that initial shock and sadness when you receive a cancer diagnosis.”
It didn’t take long for Kelly’s friends and family to step in and help, though. Sruchika Sabu, who met Kelly in college at Rutgers University, started the GoFundMe right away.
“I just feel like she’s been dealt a bad hand all her life,” Sabu said. “I wanted to take that burden off her because there’s a lot of emotional stuff and hardship involved with cancer. This was the least I could do.”
The experience has been eye-opening for Sabu, currently in medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“I’m usually on the other side of medicine,” she said. “When you’re on the patient’s side, it’s really eye-opening. You don’t want it to happen to anyone, but especially someone who is so close to you.”
The fundraiser has a goal of $80,000—just over $15,000 has been raised so far. That, coupled with food and flower deliveries from neighbors and well-wishers, has made a scary and strange experience a little easier on the Moyer family.
“The diagnosis is there,” Kelly said. “It’s not going to change just because you want it to. We’re making the best of it. The GoFundMe has helped a lot. It shows that you have a lot of support where you’ve been let down in other areas. It’s helpful to be your own advocate.”
Kelly, who lives in Hamilton, had her first round of chemotherapy on Sept. 23 and her second on Oct. 21. She has two more treatments scheduled for November and December, and after that, her doctors will determine what kind of surgery she needs based on the size of the lump. She’ll have 12 more chemo sessions—more intense and more rapid than her first round—following surgery.
Kelly said her refraction from treatment lasts about a week. The first couple of days are okay, but she starts to feel the effects around the third or fourth day.
She was given preemptive anti-nausea medication before her first treatment, since nausea is one of the most common side effects associated with chemotherapy. But that ended up doing more harm than good.
“I wasn’t nauseous, and I was taking the meds without knowing what the side effects were,” Kelly said. “My vision was blurry, I was anxious, I was constipated. This time, I didn’t take it, and I felt about 50 percent better. In general, it’s not that bad. I can do it. It’s different for everyone. There’s no way for a doctor to tell you want to expect because everyone’s body is different. Because I’m younger, I’m sure I’m experiencing chemo differently than other people who get it.”
The community’s help has also made that uncertainty a little easier to deal with.
“It’s nice waking up from a chemo-induced sleep and finding a bouquet from a random person and then hunting them down to say thank you,” she said. “It’s just the little things.”
Susan, a longtime Robbinsville resident, agreed. Everyone from neighbors dropping off food to the fundraiser’s donors has made an impact on the Moyer family.
“Take every second of every day and be grateful for it, appreciate it and live it for the moment,” Susan said. “No one ever expects this. I was blindsided completely. Even now, my heart is racing as I’m talking about it. Can’t prepare for this until you’re in the moment. What gets you through it is community. It’s true—it takes a village. My neighbors are amazing. Everyone’s been so thoughtful and lovely. It’s just been really helpful. It makes a difference. It gets you through those days.”
For more information or to donate, visit gofundme.com/f/help-kelly-fight-triplenegative-breast-cancer.