Beating the odds

Monday, December 15, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:57 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Season of Sharing

Cancer hasn’t stopped Josephine Kelly, it just sidelined her for a while.

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Kelly said while looking at a notebook that logged her surgery and chemotherapy. “It was a sad time for me.”

She was diagnosed with breast cancer on Nov. 30, 1992, after an annual mammogram. Kelly has now been in remission for 11 years, although doctors told her the average is five.

Four days after diagnosis, Kelly had her left breast removed. She lost all of her hair, including her eyebrows, after undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center twice a month. After her last treatment six months later, she began reconstructive surgery for her breast. Kelly’s biggest fear was the possibility of needing radiation therapy, but she avoided the treatment because the cancer did not spread to her lymph nodes.

GROUP: American Cancer Society

SUMMARY: The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer and diminishing suffering through research, education, advocacy and service.

CONTACT: Donations can be made online at by clicking on the “donate” button in the upper-right hand corner, or by phone at (800) ACS-2345.

WISH: Kelly’s wish is to soon find a cure for all cancer. The American Cancer Society is the largest source of private, cancer research in the United States. Donations made to the society will help the group with ongoing research.

She returned to work six weeks after surgery. She is now a team captain for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which raises money for cancer. She also belongs to the Mid-Missouri Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness, which honors cancer survivors and holds a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who have died of cancer. “Anytime I can help, I do,” Kelly said. “I am a survivor.”

Kelly is also actively involved in Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. “I’m always up into something,” Kelly said. “It’s good for me; it keeps me healthy. It’s hard to say no if it’s a challenge.”

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