After her diagnosis four years ago, Kelley Watson knew what she
didn't want to be labeled by her children's friends.
"The cancer mom," Watson recalls. "Ugh, I still hate the sound
The Oak Park woman is anything but that dire-straits
description, thanks in part to her two kids. Patrick Heyboer, then
13, and Catherine Heyboer, 11 at that time, even helped their mom
research her treatment options.
"For that part of my life, they pretty much raised themselves
while I dealt with my illness," says Watson, now 53, a food and
fitness guru who owns the Pilates Edge by Kelley studio in Forest
Both kids awoke on their own for school that year, made their
lunches, and returned home to check on their mom. That summer, the
trio went on memory-making road trips together, either hiking,
kayaking, or to the beach in Michigan.
"We became even closer during that time," Watson says. "And they
became closer to each other and more mature in a short time. It was
amazing to watch from my situation."
Watson was "furious" when she learned she had a form of breast
cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ, found in the lining of the
milk ducts. "Not only was I already living a very healthy
lifestyle, but also because there was no family history of this
disease," she says, still somewhat shocked at the diagnosis.
After Watson underwent surgery and eight weeks of radiation
treatment, she experienced a wake-up call about her life, her
lifestyle, and her future choices. The part-time model really
clamped down on avoiding chemicals in her foods, drinks, household
items, cleaning supplies, you name it.
"I became a label reading junkie, and my kids picked up on it,
too," Watson says proudly.
Since then, she has rewritten the label of her own life with a
new goal in mind.
"I want to be an example to other women with breast cancer that
you can still be vibrant, beautiful and a nurturing mother," she
"With our children's help, and their love, we can take control
of our life and our destiny. I'm proof of that," she says. "I feel
better now than I did four years ago, before I was diagnosed. I
want to be the new face of breast cancer survivors."