Updates on Kelly, Angela…

UPDATED November 1, 2011, a message from KELLY 

My breast cancer story started in September 2007 when I was 45 years old. I am a teacher, and I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) the first week of school. ILC is less likely to show up on a mammogram than other types of breast cancer, and I first noticed my tumor when I had pain in my left shoulder. My oncologist and surgeon agreed that the tumor (the size of a flattened softball) was too large to remove, so I completed six months of chemotherapy before having surgery. By April 2008, my tumor was dramatically smaller. I chose to have a lumpectomy, and axillary lymph nodes were also removed. After completely healing from surgery, I went through radiation.

Although reconstruction of my breast was covered under insurance in Minnesota, I was hesitant to do anything more to my body that might invite infection or weaken my immune system. I waited two years before working with a plastic surgeon to restore my breast to a more normal size and shape. Prior to reconstruction, I had a daily reminder of cancer every time I looked in the mirror, and my negative thoughts were sabotaging my health. Now I go weeks without thinking about cancer, and thanks to reconstruction I feel much more healthy and vigorous.

Being bald for awhile and then being lopsided are minor inconveniences. What takes a toll on me is the recurring thought that the cancer will return. I am so grateful to have a “sister,” Angela, who understands this journey. She is truly the most positive, inspirational woman I know, and I feel strengthened every time I am with her. I also appreciate that so many readers of “The Girls from Ames” have contacted me to share their stories of survival.

As of September 2011, three years after completing my treatment, there is no evidence of cancer. Every hour, every day, every week that passes puts me closer to saying with absolute assurance that I am a survivor. Years from now I hope to say that Angela and I are both survivors, and that our daughters remain cancer free.

UPDATE FROM August 2010

Readers of “The Girls from Ames” have been asking for updates on the Ames girls’ lives since the book was completed in November 2008. Many have also asked for health updates on Kelly and Angela.

Kelly has completed her treatments for breast cancer, looks great and feels well. She is back at her job teaching journalism and writing at Faribault High School in Faribault, Minn.

Angela has completed all of her treatments for inflammatory breast cancer. After 16 chemotherapy infusions early in the year, she had surgery in late April followed by 32 radiation treatments. A CT scan in August showed no evidence of disease. As a preventative measure for this aggressive form of cancer, Angela’s doctors prescribed six rounds of chemo pills that she was able to take from home. Her final dose ended on Dec 22, 2009, and she’s on a path to rebuild her energy, strength and health.

Both Angela and Kelly have been very moved by the show of concern from readers of the book.

Here’s a note from Kelly:

“I finished treatment for breast cancer at the end of July 2008, and at this time there is no evidence of disease. Even though Angela and I have different types of breast cancer, we both initially went through similar treatments which involved chemotherapy for a few months, which shrunk tumors that had spread to our lymph nodes; followed by surgery; and then radiation.

“Although our treatments were similar, the drugs, surgery and radiation affected us very differently. Breast cancer is a unique experience for each woman, but I have truly benefitted from having a “sister” in this journey who can relate to my experience. Angela and I definitely feel a deeper bond to each other now as a result of sharing breast cancer.

“When some of the ‘girls from Ames’ were in Omaha in December 2009 for a fund-raiser, we gathered in a hotel room late one night and Angela and I showed the women how our surgeries have impacted our bodies. Although it should have been a serious, poignant moment, we found many things to laugh about.

“My left breast was affected by cancer, and with Angela it was her right breast. When I walk arm-in-arm with her I feel as though we form a beautiful, strong whole woman.”
— Kelly

And here’s a note from Angela:

“I’m so touched by everyone’s well wishes for me and Kelly. Kelly has been a big inspiration to me as I completed my treatments. While I experienced everything my radiologist warned me about “” itchy, red skin, peeling, blistering, fatigue “” I am now feeling much better. I’m happy to be finished with this cancer chapter of my life which began on Oct. 20, 2008. It’s wonderful to be a survivor and I credit my friends and family for helping make that happen. This book and all of its fans kept me positive and grateful throughout my nine months of treatment. I enjoy hearing and reading your stories about friends and cancer survival. Thank you for your caring and support.”
— Angela

42 Responses to “Updates on Kelly, Angela…”

  1. 1 Marissa

    Thank you so much for the update. When I finished the book, I was very interested to hear how the girls were doing. Please continue providing updates as to their health and well-being.

  2. 2 Ann

    As a 21 year breast cancer surviror-I wish Kelly & Angela all the best. They are now a member of a sisterhood that they would never had wanted to join and I am sure that all of us pray for them and wish them well.


  3. 3 Kathy

    My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 14. It was a large mass and had spread to her lymph nodes. It was 1970 so no chemo back then. She had a radical mastectomy and radiation and was told that her years were limited. She was my best friend for 30 years after that! She passed away in 2001.
    Love and friendship is the best therapy!

  4. 4 M

    Get well soon, Angela and Kelly! I hope to hear another update after Angela finishes her radiation.

  5. 5 Lora Ramsey

    After finishing the book, I was interested in hearing the latest news about Angela and Kelly’s health. All the best to you both (and your S-Sisters) as you and your families conquer this challenge too. Many of us will be thinking of you.

  6. 6 Susan

    I just read the book while on vacation. We have a group just as you have……we are middle sixties and we have been having these reunions for 25-30 years. Our first was arranged by one of our friends who had breast cancer and was in the throws of treatment. 15 of us flew in to Pttsburgh, Pa. to have a “slumber party” with her, and encourage her during her treatment. Ann was with us for three years, and at our last reunion, she was no longer in treatment. As we left that year, she said if something ever happened to her, we had to promise to never quit being together. We have not! Our trips changed from Pittsburgh to Hilton Head, where we have rented the same house for 20 years. During that time our group dwindled from 15 to 9…..some just drifted away. The remaining 9 of us are dedicated to our commitment to Ann. In reflecting, I realized 3 of “the 9 girls” have had breast cancer over the years. Technology, medicine and our thirst for knowlege have changed the outlook for recovery over the 25 years. Thankfully, our group of 3 have survived and have happy, healthy lives.

    The book was an inspiration, a reason for reflection on our lives, re-living the hilarious stories we still laugh at every year, the somber memories of divorces, the death of two of our children, the joy of re-newed life (we all just gathered in our home state of West Virginia for the wedding of Nancy, who had been a widow for eight years),etc.

    We call ourselves “The Learned Ladies” as the home we rent is owned by a family named Learned! We also feel that at our age, we have earned the name!

    My best to all “Ames Girls”, and thank you, Jeff, for writing the book.

    Angela and Kelly, positive thoughts and get well soon.

  7. 7 Lisa

    Just finished reading the whole book about two weeks ago. Please provide us with updates on all the ladies as soon as possible! My thoughts and prayers are with you, what obstacles you have all overcome. I wish you much happiness and luck in your lives. Much love!

  8. 8 MIA

    As an 8-year breast cancer survivor, I will keep Kelly and Angela in my prayers. Ladies – allow your family and friends to help you through this most distressing time. Keep the faith!

  9. 9 sandra

    Just finished the book and want my daughter their age to read it and it gave meinsight into life in the teens as my 3 were living it……I knew I did not know all that was going on in their lives!!!

  10. 10 Sue Counts

    I just finished the book, and LOVED IT! I’m a member of the Highland Book Club in Boone, NC. I was most impressed with Karla and her life. I don’t think that I missed anything, but I was wondering if Karla ever discovered who her biological parents were???

  11. 11 Annette

    I luv’d the book. My cousin and friend of more then 40 years sent this autographed book for me to read as a reminder of our friendship.
    The book reminds us all of what true friends are. They are angels in our lives! Thanks to the Ames girls for all their stories good and bad. May Angela, Kelly and the others have long and healthy lives. Keep the updates coming.

  12. 12 Angela Bendorf Jamison

    I’m so touched by everyone’s well wishes for me and Kelly. Kelly has been a big inspiration to me as I completed my treatments. As of July 27, 2009, I finished 6 weeks of radiation. While I experienced everything my radiologist warned me about — itchy, red skin, peeling, blistering, fatigue — I am now feeling much better. I’m happy to be finished with this cancer chapter of my life which began on Oct. 20, 2008. It’s wonderful to be a survivor and I credit my friends and family for helping make that happen. This book and all of its fans kept me positive and grateful throughout my nine months of treatment. I enjoy hearing and reading your stories about friends and cancer survival. Thank you for your caring and support.

  13. 13 Teri Walker

    After reading your book, I now feel like these are my friends too. Thank you for the update. I wish all of you well and good health. I have never had close friends as I am a twin and my sister was always my best friend and than I married at 17 and my husband has been my close frien for 32 years. I too am 48. Maybe I should start looking for close friends. Love the slipper idea. I am sending the book back to a friend that this would be so great for. Blessings

  14. 14 Ginny Linn

    I just finished reading the book and it left me wondering about the progress of Angela and Kelly. As a recent 59 year old breast cancer fighter (and proud survivor of 8 months), I have been able to reconnect with some dear friends from my old neighborhood. Lovings to all of the Ames Girls. Keep each other safe and strong. You have been blessed – thank you for sharing your story with us all.

  15. 15 Fran

    I just finished your book and all I can say is WOW! The 7 women in my book club chose it, with my prompting, as our read for August. I know we will have a lot to discuss about it when we meet next week.

    The book is incredible, for me it was a like a walk down memory lane I started thinking about my own childhood and teen years.

    I wish Angela and Kelly all the best with their battles with cancer. Please keep us all updated.

  16. 16 Marge

    As a one-year breast cancer survivor, I was happy to read the updates on Angela and Kelly. Long live the S Sisters, with their stories of love and true friendship.

  17. 17 LaVerne

    My dear friend of 65 years gave me this book for my 70th birthday. It was WONDERFUL! It invoked memories from so many times in my life when her friendship added to the joys and supported me during the rougher moments. Thank you all for sharing your story. Thanks too for adding this website. I was very concerned about Kelly and Angela and am glad to know they are both progressing well. I’ll be keeping them in my prayers.

  18. 18 Gayle

    Just finished the book and saw the website address. Am so glad I was able to see an update on Kelly and Angela. I hope they have continued success and many more years with their Ames sisters. I think this website would be a great place for them to blog and we could get updates from their lives. Thanks to all of the Ames girls for sharing their story!

  19. 19 Ellen

    For Kelly and Angela especially, but all the “girls” – I recommend a great author of books on women’s health that may be of help – John R. lee MD – what your doctor won’t tell you about premenopause: balance your hormones – for insights into your health. I loved hearing about your close friendships and have shared the book with a good friend of mine.

  20. 20 Kristin Van Veen Hincke

    Angela, I’m so glad you are doing well. Received this book for my birthday 2 weeks ago and saving it for a 10 day business trip I have coming up. Hope to see you soon.

  21. 21 Pam

    I Loved the book. I’m glad that Kelly and Angela are doing well.
    As a Colon cancer survivor, I loved Kelly quote: “Enjoy yourselves right now. Take a moment today to be grateful for all your body parts.
    Really celebrate your body and your health. So much can change in a few months.” I’m a 7 year survivor. Thank you for such a great Book.

  22. 22 Aimes

    One of my best friends of 20 years gave me this book for my 30th birthday. As I read it I was overwhelmed by the blessings & memories friendships like the Ames girls’ brings – as well as of memories from home. I grew up outside of Austin, MN – my family’s farm is actually on the MN/IA border. I know the places they talk about. I was also lucky enough to grow up with a group of girls that still remain friends today – 20 years later. This book made me realize that what the Ames girls have is such a beautiful thing and that I am so grateful for my own “girls” and their support throughout the years. Thank you for sharing your friendship & lives with the world! It is inspiring and beautiful!

  23. 23 Jan

    I am a Iowa State University graduate from 1980. I so enjoyed this book about these women and their friendship. As a fellow cancer survivor, I send out my heart to Kelly and Angela for their recovery and good health. Since it has been more than 25 years since I was in Ames at college, I loved hearing about hometown life there. Jeff Zaslow made it come alive for me again. My reading time for this book was 6:45 am til 7:30 am everyday as I saw my son off to school and didn’t disturb my husband til a “decent hour”. I could hardly put the book down! I envy the girls their friendships, since I too have moved far away from my old pals. Good luck and happiness to all the Ames girls!!

  24. 24 Tonya

    I am glad to hear that Kelly is doing better and I send my prayers Angela’s way.

  25. 25 Linda

    What a beautiful book. As soon as I finished I pulled up the website to get updates. I send Kelly & Angela warm thoughts. I also admire Karla’s strength, Jane’s smarts and Marilyn’s grounded outlook on life. I learned important lessons from each woman. Our girlfriends are so important to our well-being, mental health and overall happiness. I plan on recommending this book to my circle of friends.

  26. 26 Sam

    What a great book & life story. S

  27. 27 Carol

    Kelly and Angela are certainly in my constant thoughts and prayers! I am a 7 year breast cancer survivor and understand their concerns. Hang in there girls!

  28. 28 Dawn

    I truly enjoyed reading about the lifelong friendships of the Girls From Ames. I, too, have some very long friendships with 8 other women from High School. We just celebrated our 35th reunion for our high school and chose to keep it just among ourselves and not attend the evening set aside for our graduating class. We all felt that we only needed to see those who meant the most to us!! May your group last until the last “girl” breathes her last.

  29. 29 Melissa

    What a great book! Living in a small town outside Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I can relate to where you came from. Your stories are inspirational to me as a mother of two daughters, a sister, and a friend and I thank you for being brave enough to share them. My sincere wishes to all of you for good health and lasting friendship.

  30. 30 jOANN

    I haven’t seen an update posted about Kelly and Angela’s health since
    April 2009. Is there an update?

  31. 31 Donna

    I read about this book in Real Simple magazine and bought it for a number of friends birthdays. I had no idea what it was about, only great friendships and everyone needs those. I met my current group of friends through a book club formed in 2007 that put 16 otherwise unknown people together from a local gym. Those 16 are still together today and while not formed when children, I know, deep down how much each of us mean to each other. I am a 2+ year breast cancer survivor so I can totally relate to Kelly and Angela. I took my breast cancer as a sign to help others and today am proud that I have spoken to a great number of people about my life with breast cancer. This book just reaffirms the power of women and for that I am truly grateful. I wish each of you nothing but the best.

  32. 32 Lori

    I was given this book for Christmas by my best friend. I can’t wait to hug her and thank her for it! What a wonderful tribute to friends! What a wonderful world it would be, if we all had a group of friends like yours!
    Kelly and Angela – you are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Thank you for allowing your story to be told.
    God Bless all of you and your families!

  33. 33 Jill

    Just read this book on a long train ride from Chicago to Denver and it made me wish I had close friends like these. Thanks for your story and I hope that Kelly and Angela are doing well. My thoughts are with you.

  34. 34 Jennifer

    Thank you for a wonderful book. I started it this week thinking that it would be a light trashy ready to offset this blasted winter cold. Instead, it has been a fantastically thought provoking book. I emailed my childhood friend who now lives on the other side of the continent to ask her to read it and have begged others to read it. I made my New Year’s resolutions last week–work out more, eat well, etc–but now I am adding one: focus on my friendships more.

  35. 35 Anne

    On a girlfriend weekend, the book was suggested to me by a very dear friend. I put off reading it until I knew I had time to emerse myself in it. I wasn’t disappointed. There were so many things I could relate to. And I found myself hoping I was a good friend to my “best’s” like you all are.
    Thank you so much for sharing your lives with other girlfriends.

  36. 36 pat gilson

    I received this book for Christmas and could not put down, I have told everyone that I know what a great loving book, I do not have any long time friends and this was such a warm story.Thank you for the updates keep them coming.

  37. 37 Lisa

    Please give us an update on the girls!! Will there be a part two with updates???

  38. 38 Carol A Sullivan

    I loved the book! I have 4 girls-ages 51 49 47-45 and I understand how you would want to write this book for your children.
    I have been a member of the WINNERS for 25 years and this year (2010)we lost a valued member-Joan-who died from cancer. WINNERS is an acronymn for Women In Need of Nonsense,Estrogen,Relaxation and Shoes.
    Between us we had 28 children and it all started at the beach. We had such a good time at the beach, when the weather turned cold, we came inside and started our club. I loved your parents and I can relate to their age group. I am now 72 and our little group hasn’t stopped but we are mourning our beautiful Joan.

  39. 39 Rita See

    What a beautiful read. My daughter just gave me this book for Mother’s Day. It made me realize how precious my female friends are. You are all in my thoughts and prayers!

  40. 40 Autumn Parker

    I’m thanking God right now, because it really is wonderful that you guys are healthy-ish again. I’m so sorry for everything; you have all my sympathy and a lot of my love (though I’m thirteen, so I honestly can’t say I can empathize). A shout out to all of you girls: I want to be like you. You’re all so strong, and you cope so well with tragedy. I want to be as strong as you all are.

    I came across the book because of financial problems; my mom has been taking surveys to raise up extra money, and one of the surveys was that she read this book and write a review. Her name is Roxanna Parker and she was involved in a near-fatal car accident in 04 (I think. I haven’t kept track of the year), so it’s no surprise she doesn’t make much money.

    I haven’t read her review, but she gave me the book right after she was done with it, with the mere instructions to “read it”. I did. And I’m extremely glad for that, because your stories have inspired me in a way I didn’t think possible.

    Yesterday as I was reading it I sat and thought about what I would do if I had any form of cancer. These thoughts were based off Christie; the way she handled it so beautifully made me think of how I’d react to cancer. I conjured up a scenario in my head in which I had cancer that was in my legs. A doctor would have said to me, “You have two options. Amputate your legs and live, or don’t amputate and most likely die.” Mom would have cried and dad would have, too. Ethan (older brother) most likely would have broken down as well.

    I would have cried and thought long and hard, and I like to think I’d have decided to lose my legs. I value life more than ever, in part due to reading your story.

    Yes, an unlikely scenario, but it put things into perspective. I sincerely thank you for sharing your wonderful stories with us; it greatly helped me and no doubt countless others.


  41. 41 karin

    Wow ladies (and Mr. Zaslow) what a story. No, actually non-fiction that begins in the fertile, rich soil of Iowa and grows verdently……….sprouting at college, disseminating to different US cities, marrying (pollinating, or not) and procreating (or not.) You miraculous “Girls” grow with all life’s challenges and triumphs. And I really think those challenges and triumphs are both the BIG things AND the not-so-big-things.

    I am a changed person for reading this book/testimony. Truthfully, I thought it would be a light-weight read. Not so! This is profound fodder. ‘Friendship fluff stuff’ that really knives to the marrow of our collective, holistic female existance. Pretty primordial.

    You Ames chicks are XX-gene heroines. What amazing, special people you are individually, and as a beautiful, dynamic, evolving group.

    Disclaimer: I was reading along blissfully and somewhat naively wondering how the heck breast cancer (or any cancer? Given your Ames Project proximity…..AND don’t even tell me what happens with the soccer complex that Marylin’s dad fought againest) had bypassed ya’ll. DUMB ME then got Kelly and Angela’s diagnosis. I was diagnosed December 4 of 2008 with a very aggressive stage 3 form of breast cancer. Now, with your book, I have re-cried my bald head, crappy chemo, my bilateral radical mastectomy, breast infections that resulted from said-opted-for-bilateral-mastectomy, radiation that burned the living crap out of my poor “new boobs”. ETC. ETC. Now those stupid new boobs have to be re-constructed. But as I am sure Kelly and Angela would agree…it is nothing compared to the alternate picture. I am living and will be here to yell at my grandkids……Oh, I forgot, we won’t/can’t yell at grandkids. Maybe at our deaf husbands? hee.

    Angela and Kelly are super warriors in the talks and experiences of breast cancer…..and Karla is in another stratosphere with Christie. (We moms can handle ANYTHING, but when %#*@!^ happens to our kids…watch the ^$#@&*! out! Karla, you go beyond words… Bruce and Ben and Jackie too, of-course!) But all the Ames girls have been through EVERYTHING (good and bad, solo and collectively)…………I am jealous and impressed by the fortitude and flexibily of your friendship ties. Rock-star- (Rod Stewart? Bruce?)kudos to ALL OF YOU. AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A SYNERGISTIC WHOLE.

    OK one bitchy mean-girl question………..no alcoholism? (SMILE! I knew you were all better than my pathetic-frustrated-housewife-mother-of-four self. Ok, won’t go there….I am Jenny’s sort-of-neighbor in Northern Va.

    I am a tad (wee-tad) younger at now age 45 than ya’ll…….and I finally kicked wine as my cancer crutch 4 1/2 months ago.

    Thanks for this “real-life story” that has helped me tremendously. You inspire more than you know. I think I can do anything now. I have wonderful friends that I now savor and relish more than ever.

    XOXOXOX to you all. Your gift and example(s) live on in spades.


  42. 42 Kris

    My mom sent me this book after my high school girlfriends and I got together for what we hope to be an annual event. The fact that we too grew up in Iowa in the 80s, we had so many of the same memories and life experiences, it amazed me. I had to put the book down a few times to ‘get myself together’, but it is such a wonderful way to remind us all the power and need of our girl friends. Thank you for sharing your lives with the world. I hope you are each blessed for your courage to expose your lives!

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