Pro golfer eager to return to competition after being sidelined by ovarian cancer


Brittany Kelly was just completing her best year as a professional golfer when she got thrown way off course.

The 2019 Indiana PGA Women’s Player of the Year, who serves as an assistant pro at Woodland Country Club in Carmel, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2019.


Kelly, a Fishers resident and 2007 Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate, was suffering fatigue, bloating, frequent urination and abdominal pain in November 2019. Those are the typical symptoms of ovarian cancer but she didn’t know it at the time.

“It was going on for a couple of weeks and I decided to go into the doctor because I thought I had kidney stones or something,” she said. “I wasn’t too familiar with the pain I was experiencing.”

After an ultrasound and MRI, the former Ball State golfer learned she had a mass on her ovary. She was eventually diagnosed with Stage 1 clear cell ovarian cancer.

“It’s an aggressive form of cancer, so I underwent chemotherapy,” she said. “The symptoms are so subtle not a lot of people know about them and they try to brush them off or work through the pain. It’s something I had never experienced before. I was lucky to catch it early.”

Kelly, 31, had surgery in January, followed by her first round of chemotherapy at the end of February. She completed her final round of chemotherapy June 12 and was able to return to work July 1.

“I’ve been able to play a few rounds of golf with my parents (Ken and Joni Kelly),” said Kelly, whose father is a retired Carmel High School boys and girls golf coach. “With COVID-19, it’s hard to practice with a bunch of people around. I’ve been social distancing and playing a few casual rounds, which has been nice.”

Kelly plans to play the PGA Professional Championship set for July 19-22 In Austin, Texas.

“My strength is getting back and I’m getting healthier every day,” Kelly said.

In 2019, Kelly qualified for her first LPGA major championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June, won the Indiana Women’s Open  in July and helped Team USA win the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in October. In addition, she became the first woman to win the Indiana PGA Assistant Professional Championship in July. It was at the National Car Rental PGA Assistant Professional Championship in November in Florida where she began feeling fatigued.

“More than anything, I want to get back to playing the game that I love,” she said. “My expectations are always as high as possible. As much as I want to be back playing again, I want to get back to winning again.”

Kelly said she hopes sharing her story will help raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but it’s been good for my personal growth,” she said. “I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate my life and my goals in life. It makes you reevaluate everything and how do you do better and help the next person. My goal is spreading awareness for this awful, awful disease. The best I can do is let people know the subtle symptoms.”


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