Cancer, a wedding, and a cycle team inspired by this Kelowna woman

Chelsea was given a six hour leave from the hospital to get married

  • Local woman diagnosed with the same cancer Terry Fox had
  • KGH staff helped her with the wedding
  • A team in her name will be part of B.C. cycling fundraiser for cancer research

When Chelsea Strauss was experiencing knee pain earlier this year, she figured it was just an old injury acting up.

But the discomfort didn’t go away and one day when she stood up, she put her hands on her lap and felt an unusual lump on the inside of her thigh.

After numerous tests, scans, biopsies, and follow-up appointments, doctors gave Strauss the grim news that she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma high grade bone cancer.

“Essentially, I thought I was going to die,” she told Kelowna10 over Zoom. “It was a rush of emotions; just scared, nervous, anxious, impatient, all of the above. It was really difficult”

Shortly after, she was given ‘a pretty toxic cocktail’ of chemotherapy in the hopes of saving her life and leg from amputation.

Her bone was fragile at this point and doctors told her if it broke or fractured, the tumour would rupture and she would lose the leg. So, she rode in a wheelchair as much as possible.

“I just have tried really hard to stay as positive as I can, keep my head down, and just do whatever the doctors tell me to do,” she said.

When Kelowna10 caught up with her, she was recovering at home after undergoing surgery.

Her big day

Her life was put on hold during the treatments, including her wedding. But she and fiancé Jordan later decided to go ahead with the ceremony in May.

Despite a high fever the night before, staff at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) worked with her, switching her antibiotics from intravenous to oral so she could still get released from the hospital. She just needed a six-hour window; enough time to get married.

Because her hair was falling out, a hair-dresser friend shaved her head and spent all afternoon curling a wig, alongside another friend who did her nails and makeup.

Despite a cloudy forecast, the sun broke through the clouds long enough for the ceremony to happen at the Belgo Outdoor Chapel. After a small reception in her parent’s backyard, she returned to a surprise in her hospital room.

“I got into the private room and the nurses had decorated the walls with ‘just married’ signs, and flower petals, and bouquet of flowers,” Chelsea explained. “It was really, really sweet. Under the circumstances we were in, I could not have asked for a better day.”

The excitement for her wedding, she explained, gave her the extra motivation she needed during the treatments.

Cancer research

Strauss was diagnosed with the same form of cancer that took Terry Fox’s life and in roughly the same area.

“Terry Fox had like a 20 per cent chance of survival and I have like 80. So, that’s just like an immense gap to close,” Strauss said. “We need all that research. We need the support for that research.”

Following her recent surgery, Strauss received the good news the chemotherapy treatments completely destroyed the tumour and all living cancer cells in her body.

Strauss’s friends and family, led by her uncle Brad Gilbert in TEAM CURE CHELSEA, are riding in the Tour de Cure to raise money for cancer research.

Strauss said she will be supporting research initiatives for the rest of her life.

“Donate and support in whatever way you can. Whether that’s donating, volunteering, writing, running, whatever it is,” she said. “It’s super important now more than ever.”

Published 2022-07-26 by David Hanson

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