Kiley Taylor seems to express a bit of disbelief as she says, “I am running the Lincoln Half-Marathon.” Kiley has overcome incredible physical challenges to become a runner. Ten years ago, Kiley gave birth to her daughter. She endured an extremely difficult birth that tore her body apart. Kiley endured multiple reconstructive surgeries following her pregnancy and delivery. For years, Kiley lived in fear that simple tasks that others take for granted might cause irreparable damage to her body. But Kiley says with bravery and determination, “My goal is to finish. I want to run this race. If I finish last, that is OK. I am still running it.” Whereas other people might have been content just to have survived all that she has endured, Kiley has a sense of mission and purpose. Kiley lost her mother, Patricia Shaw, to Pancreatic Cancer in 2014. Kiley wants to run the Lincoln Half-Marathon to raise money to help beat the disease that cruelly took her mother in just five short months.
Patricia Shaw spent her adult life working as a nurse. It was a field that was both a passion and a calling for Patricia. Kiley explains, “She was extremely caring. She was one of the best nurses. Her patients just adored her.” Patricia married Lester Shaw in 1978. Together, the couple raised their daughter Kiley and their son David Shaw. When asked to describe her mother, Kiley says, “She was wonderful. She would speak her mind and tell you what she thought, but she would also bend over backwards to do whatever she could for you. She was funny, witty and fun to be around.” Patricia had a passion for what they referred to as the Four F’s: faith, family, friends and Nebraska Football.
Kiley recalls how on Thanksgiving in 2013, her mother looked pale and had lost a considerable amount of weight. A couple of Patricia’s friends had called Kiley, expressing concern that Patricia had been vomiting a lot. Kiley begged her mother to see a doctor. Patricia delayed seeking medical treatment. Kiley suspects that with her nursing background, her mother suspected that she was seriously ill. Though she put it off for a while, Patricia eventually did see a doctor who ordered a CT scan. In April of 2014, Patricia received the news that she had Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.
Patricia attempted treatment with chemotherapy, but it nearly killed her. Her organs began shutting down. Kiley recalls how the more medication the medical team gave her, the sicker Patricia became. Patricia was transferred to a new hospital where she was taken off of the chemotherapy. They had to wait several weeks for her body to recover from the metabolic toxicity. Kiley feels that her mom never fully recovered from those difficult first treatments.
In June of 2014, Patricia was so sick that she could not take two steps without becoming breathless. Kiley, who spent nearly every weekend with her mom, took her to the Emergency Room. While Patricia was in the hospital, her face turned purple and her oxygen levels dropped dangerously low. She was quickly transferred to another hospital, where it was discovered that she had a blood clot in her chemotherapy port. The port needed to be removed immediately. Though she had been scheduled to begin receiving a new chemotherapy regimen, her treatments would have to be delayed.
Just days later, Kiley arrived at a doctor’s appointment to find her mom sitting in her wheelchair, with tears streaming down her face. Patricia told Kiley, “I am fine. I am just in a lot of pain.” An MRI of her neck revealed that a tumor was growing into Patricia’s vertebra. The tumor had actually shattered the bone in her neck, and was pressing on a nerve, causing excruciating pain. Six weeks of radiation treatments were administered in hopes that they would shrink the tumor in her neck. Once again, however, Patricia’s treatments had to be delayed due to blood clots that had developed in her lung.
On Thursday, September 18th, Patricia had to be return to the hospital. On Saturday, imaging showed that tumors were growing throughout her entire spine. There was nothing more the doctors could do to treat her cancer. When Patricia went into the hospital that Thursday, she knew she was very sick. She told Kiley that this time she would not be leaving the hospital. Days later, Patricia was transferred to hospice in another hospital. Several of her colleagues worked at this facility, and it was comforting to know that she would be in the care of her friends. Patricia passed away on September 24, 2014, just five months after she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She left behind her parents, her husband, her son David, Kiley, her husband Andy and their daughter Beyna.
Kiley remembers that despite being in an immense amount of pain, her mother never lost her sense of humor. Patricia was the cornerstone of their family. Kiley says, “I miss her every day. She visits me in my dreams, and when I wake up in the morning, I have to reset to my reality.”
Though Kiley has faced many of her own physical hurdles over the last decade, she wants to honor her mother by running in the Lincoln Half-Marathon for Project Purple. Kiley has been working out with a group of friends for the past three years. Last year, one of her workout partners saw a Project Purple flyer and suggested that they make the Lincoln Half-Marathon a goal for this year. Kiley has been training by working out on the treadmill at the YMCA and by taking long walks with her friends. Though she does not always love exercising, she enjoys the time with her friends. Kiley finds motivation to get in her training sessions by reminding herself of the purpose behind her running. Kiley’s biggest supporter is her daughter Beyna, who was very close to Patricia.
Kiley wrote about her mother’s passing, “To lose a loved one leaves a deep, wide wound on your soul. God mends that wound with friends and family who serve as the stitches and bandages. The pain is severe at first, but with time. I know that it will lessen. It will never be the same, as a permanent scar will remain as a reminder. That’s ok. Though I am anxious for the pain to subside, I never want to forget.”
Kiley does not want any other families to have to experience the pain that her family has endured. Please support Kiley’s efforts to help beat Pancreatic Cancer by following this link to her Crowdrise page.