Have Faith: My friend Kelly

Prayer can help us through the good and the bad times.

Prayer and support from friends and family can give strength to those in need. —Tina Witherspoon

I met Kelly Homan Rodoski (just Homan back then) almost 30 years ago when I took a job at the Catholic Sun back in Syracuse. I started off as a regional writer and she was my editor and she was lovely. Kelly had a light touch as an editor, and I was glad for that because it was my first “real” writing job. I probably would’ve cried my eyes out back then if anyone changed as much as a semicolon — which I did not know how to use properly, by the way.

She left that newspaper to move on to the communications department at Syracuse University, where she’s been for nearly 25 years. We’ve kept in touch though, and I was around when she met her husband Dennis. (He was smart enough to send her flowers at work right away.) When they got married, “Mony Mony” was on the playlist at their reception just because it’s my go-to dance song. I’ve always been grateful for that. I was thrilled for them when they adopted their daughter Maddie, who is now a college student.

Almost two years ago now, Kelly was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, meaning the breast cancer first detected in 2018 decided to make an unwelcome return. Now she’s dealing with cancer that has spread to her liver and her bones. Kelly underwent five months of chemo right away, and she’s still taking oral medications to fight the cancer. She has a new scan every three to six months, and she told me on the phone the other day that the cancer on her liver was almost undetectable at the last scan. But she just had another last Thursday and by the time you read this, she will know the results.

I want to tell you about Kelly because she is so exceptional. If you need anything, I mean absolutely anything, this woman has your back. She once stayed with all three of my kids while I went out of town on an assignment for about four days — now that’s an editor. And they were between the ages of about 11 to 5 at the time. No easy feat. When I got back, I found out they made trips to McDonald’s and she took superb care of them. They still talk about how much fun it was. When I had my 60th birthday bash at Aquinnah Town Hall a few years ago, she came from Syracuse to be there and drove a couple of other people with her. She and her husband routinely pick up and deliver rescue dogs in their spare time. They also host international students that come to study at S.U.

I wondered how Kelly’s spiritual life was going right now, in the middle of this horrible cancer challenge she’s facing and I knew she’d tell me if I asked her. We spoke the other night for more than an hour. It was a heavy conversation at times, but we also laughed a lot about the old days and some of the craziness that came with our jobs back then. Unlike me, Kelly has continued to attend Mass faithfully over the years, walking her daughter Maddie through the sacraments — baptism, first communion, and confirmation.

“I do go to Mass,” she told me. “I was sick with a stomach bug so we missed a couple of times and we went back yesterday and I’ve got to tell you, I walked in and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I missed this so much.’ There was a baptism during Mass and that brought me back to Maddie’s baptism 18 years ago.” Kelly told me Maddie made her confirmation under duress, like a lot of teenagers. “I figured when she got to college she’d test the waters, but I told her she would have a foundation she can count on when things get tough…in good times and bad times, I want her to have that foundation.”

Kelly said that her own faith has “anchored” her throughout this cancer process. “It’s not easy,” she admitted. “People say ‘You’re so strong…’ I say what you don’t understand is that I’m one step away from losing my shit. My faith keeps me moving forward. It has truly helped me to not lose my mind. I don’t hear about this scan until Wednesday, but I can focus on other things and believe that God is going to take care of me. It’s kept me focused. I never had to deal with anything like this before.”

We talked some more and Kelly told me she uses the Hallow app to pray at night before falling asleep. I like that app too. In fact, she says a prayer every morning before she takes her medications. As she works to stay focused, Kelly told me, she keeps in mind that God is there to help her through whatever comes her way. “God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle. I truly believe that — except sometimes I’m like, ‘You’re really testing me…can you back it off,’” she laughed.

“The scans are so hard … they’re all good so far, but there’s going to come a point when they’re not going to be, and it’s hard knowing that,” Kelly admitted. “I like to think that when something eventually happens, it’s what God’s plan is for me and he’s going to take care of those I leave behind. I truly believe in God’s plan for all of us — and in heaven and that once we pass on, we’re fulfilled. Do I want this to happen at 54 years old? No.”

She’s staying “prayed up,” as Mark Wahlberg says in those ads for the Hallow app. And her name is on every prayer list we can think of. I know she’s in my prayers too, and in my thoughts every day. Even her oncology doctor tells her they prayed for her at his church as well. When you have someone like this in your life, all the prayers we can muster are needed. For them, and like Kelly says, those they may have to leave behind. For now though, we’re going to stay in touch knowing that we’ve always got that shared history to laugh about and we’ve also got faith in common. And the very real hope that God doesn’t give us things we can’t handle.



  1. I’m a friend of Kelly’s and this article describes her to a “T.” I’m a big believer in angels among us. Kelly is living proof, as she is loved and returns love easily and graciously. I know it sounds trite, but this world could use a lot more just like her.

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