Keyla Nunny Reece & Tauneka Dolloson: A Legacy of Faith & Purpose Lives On.
My sister, Keyla “Nunny” Reece was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2017 at just 39 years old. Two years prior of her diagnosis, she felt a lump in her right breast and went immediately to get it checked out. She was told it was benign and not to worry about it, to keep checking on it and if it got bigger or if it changes to come back. There were no changes, it never got bigger, so Nunny didn’t worry about it. It wasn’t until she was misdiagnosed with having Lupus that those changes appeared. Her misdiagnosis led to what we later found out was cancer… stage IV breast cancer. She woke up one morning and couldn’t move. Her back was hurting her so bad, she had bruises all over her body, she then felt a lump in her armpit. She knew she had to get it checked out. She called one of the practices she worked closely with to request a mammogram. She went in to get her mammogram and before she could get to work, she received “the” call. The call that changed our lives forever.
It was the most devastating news I have ever heard. It rocked my core, and my heart sank. My sister and I were very close and shared a very special bond and to hear that just made me go into prayer mode because I knew only God could help us with this.
She made up her mind that this was not going to defeat her and that she was going to fight, and she did just that, she fought until her very last breath.
Nunny had always been a fighter, cancer was not going to stop her. To watch my sister, go through what she went through, and she still woke up every day with her faith growing stronger and stronger, I knew it was the presence and evidence of God. She had a bigger purpose in this world, and she was going to live it out. She reached so many lives with her story, being featured on several podcasts, the news, and stories locally. She felt that was her purpose and that she had to keep going. She would say that she had to get people closer to God, and that this was bigger than her. She was still fighting, and I was still hurting.
I would have to take her to her appointments to get scans, to get her checkups, stay with her at night and hold her hair back while she throws up, hospital stays, rushing to the hospital, it was all surreal for me. I just couldn’t believe this was our new normal. I literally had a bag packed in my car, just in case we had to go the hospital and had to stay. I was prepared. She was always in constant pain so I would rub her legs, her arms, her hands, her feet, just to help her feel comfortable. I was going to be by my sister’s side no matter what and walk with her through this. I am human, I would pray of course, but my heart was always heavy, and I would just cry. It hurts to see your loved one go through so much, at such a young age, and who had so much life. It was amazing to see that no matter what the doctors said, she still stood in her faith, faithfully. She never wavered. Seeing that gave me hope. It empowered me and inspired me, but as a caregiver and a sister, it was never easy to go through something as detrimental as this. Her pain got worse, she got worse. I would have to bathe her, dress her, whatever she needed done, I did it. I had to. My love for my sister strengthened me, her fight pushed me through.
She advocated profusely for women and men to make sure to get checked if they felt something was wrong and for women to make sure to get their yearly mammograms, and most importantly, to advocate for yourself. If something is found, don’t just let your medical staff tell you its nothing, or its benign. Push for an ultrasound, push for an MRI if need be. She did not want anyone else to go through what she went through.
I am so grateful for the time I spent with her and the time I never took for granted, even before this horrible disease took over our lives. I am thankful that she lived as long as she did, as she was truly a miracle in her own right.
I was with my sister when she took her last breath, just as she wanted. Her story reached many women, families, groups, and organizations, and her faith was admired by many; she had served her purpose.
For anyone that’s going through this with a loved one or themselves, you are not alone. I can relate to every feeling, every worry, every scare, every tear, every heartache, every when and what ifs… I can tell you that the hurt will always be there, the pain never goes away, but… it will get easier. Just keep believing things will get better, and everything will work out for the good, no matter what the result is. There's still a rainbow on the other side.