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National Cancer Institute

Cancer Survivor Stories

Kelly Turner

Helping others get help

Kelly TurnerKelly Turner, a New Haven, Connecticut police officer, found a golf ball-sized lump in her breast when she was 36 years old. It turned out to be stage 3 breast cancer.

In July 2001, Kelly began 4 months of aggressive chemotherapy. She had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery the following January, then radiation therapy 6 months later.

The entire time, Kelly’s close friends gave her a tremendous amount of emotional support and help her through medical appointments and treatments. Her coworkers and church family collected money, and also organized a motorcycle ride and a hockey game to raise funds that could

help with her expenses. Kelly coped with the uncertainty of it all with the help of her loved ones, with prayer, and with spiritual music and talks.

I went through cancer
so I could do what
I'm doing now.

On January 1, 2003, after missing 18 months of work, Kelly returned to the police force. Encouraged by the outpouring of emotional and financial support she had received from her friends and coworkers, Kelly decided to help other people the way she had been helped: she formed The Chain Fund exit disclaimer, an organization that provides financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. Even though she's helping others through the project, the project is helping her, too, by giving her hope and strength. As she puts it, "I love to be a blessing to others! I enjoy making someone else's life better—even if it's just for a moment in time."

Today, Kelly is cancer free. The Chain Fund has grown to address various emotional and physical needs for cancer patients and families, while continuing its financial focus. Kelly describes herself as shy, but she tirelessly solicits donations and grants for The Chain Fund, holds events and fundraisers, and always thinks of ways she can help others.

Kelly believes cancer changed her as a person. Although she would never want to go through the traumatic and difficult time again, she sees the positive result from it. "I don't think I went through that whole cancer experience to not do anything," she says. "I believe I went through it so I could do what I'm doing now."

The story on this page was first featured in the book Cancer Adventures, by Marlys Johnson (Copyright © 2008 by Marlys Johnson). Both the story and the photograph are owned by the author and the survivor and are used with permission.