Jeanne Sager | Democrat
JEANANNE KELLY GETS a cuddle from son Robby, 11. The mother of two says it was her two kids who truly enabled her to win her fight with cancer.
Where pink is the color of determination
By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY It is her battle scar.
A small pink ribbon, almost but not quite covered by her curly brown hair, it’s JeanAnne Kelly’s reminder that she’s brave enough and strong enough.
She can remain a survivor.
And so it isn’t for herself that Kelly will walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer in Philadelphia in October.
She’s walking for her friend, Judy Graham-Fox, a former resident of Ferndale who lost her fight against breast cancer in 2004. She was just about to hit her fifth year as a survivor.
JeanAnne just rounded her fourth.
But the day she was diagnosed is still there. It was a day she could think only of Graham-Fox.
Already dealing with high blood pressure, Kelly was sent for a stress test in 2005. She wasn’t expecting them to look beyond her heart, but something strange happened.
Her left nipple glowed.
They ordered a mammogram.
“They called me back and said ‘There was a shadow, we need to do it again’,” Kelly recalled. “I went back, and before I left that day, they told me. It was breast cancer.”
The bottom fell out of her world. And all she could think about was her friend.
Four years later, Graham-Fox is still on her mind. Kelly is in remission, healthy, a busy mom of two.
When her daughter, Krysta first mentioned the cute pink tents the walkers at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day stay in, she laughed it off.
But then got serious. It was March, and she was nearing her four-year mark, a mark Graham-Fox did not get far beyond.
She decided she’d do it. She’d walk for Judy.
And Krysta said she’d do it too only the 16-year-old is walking for her mom.
In the months since, the entire Kelly family including dad Jim and son Robby, 11, has been traversing the county, selling raffle tickets and soliciting donations.
In light of the economy, it’s been difficult, but they’re pushed ahead by a requirement by the Komen Foundation that every participant in the walk raise at least $2,300.
That’s $4,600 between them, and they have to have it all by October 16 or they won’t get to walk.
There have been hurdles Krysta walked into a shop in Eldred prepared with her speech only to be told “we donate to locals go back to Liberty.”
But the family has found strength in sharing the burden of finding a cancer cure with the world.
“Getting up to go to the farmers’ market in Kauneonga Lake every Friday, talking to people about this, has done so much for my depression,” JeanAnne noted. “For the first time in years, it makes me feel like me again.”
The family is $1,700 short of their goal, with a deadline of Sept. 15 fast approaching, and they’re counting on people in Sullivan County to make their last month and a half a good one. They’ll be out at the Bethel Farmers’ Market at Kauneonga Lake the next two Fridays from 3-6 p.m. selling raffle tickets, and donations made out to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day can be sent to their home, 797 Lt. Brender Hwy., Ferndale, NY 12734.
To donate online, go to http://www.the3-day.org/ Click on Donate Now and search for Krysta Kelly or JeanAnne Kelly.
“Without a cure, one in eight women in the U.S. will continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer,” JeanAnne says. “Pink isn’t just a pretty color, for me it is a statement.”