Kelly Spence

Kelly Spence is a woman of strength, gratitude and generosity. She’s a mother of three, a recent recipient of a master’s degree and the director of an after school non-profit. Her existing roles embody that of an active community member and benefactor; she’s a force to be reckoned with. While she’s always valued the characteristics associated with her current purpose, it was hardship in her past that shaped her into the woman she is today. What began as a difficult and trying battle, turned out to be an illuminating journey.
In May of 2015, Kelly received a devastating phone call. Just two months out from a clean mammogram, she was diagnosed with triple-negative, stage II breast cancer. The news was heartbreaking at the time, but her battle developed into an enlightening experience. Kelly gained a new understanding that she may not have without this diagnosis; had she never been faced with this disease, it’s likely that her outlook would differ from the one she holds today. 
Prior to this chapter, Kelly was a go-getter, a doer. While undergoing treatment, she found it challenging to accept care from others as she was used to offering it. However, despite feeling overwhelmed and uneasy, she dug deep and learned to appreciate the help friends and family extended. A friend went as far as organizing a shoe drive termed “Kelly’s kickin’ cancer’s butt.” Every evening before Kelly was due for chemotherapy, a new pair of flip flops would appear on her front porch. It was successful in that it gave Kelly something to look forward to, not to mention, the name was fitting considering the way Kelly dealt with the pain. She attacked cancer head on, shaving her head the day before chemotherapy could take it from her and attending school throughout. Kelly was indeed “kickin’ cancer’s butt.”
Additionally, she established true compassion and found meaning in her weaknesses. After dealing with her own sickness, she came to the realization that people in a similar position don’t want pity. Kelly said, “You have no idea what people are going through, so…to have empathy for people who have illnesses, now I realize that they may need to talk to somebody or may need a prayer.”
As for learning what matters most in life, Kelly found the truth behind beauty. Chemotherapy took a toll on her body and upon first glance, she struggled with her appearance. However, she channeled that drawback into a positive lesson; she persevered. Kelly chose to lead by example. She represented the moral taught to children across the country—it isn’t about what’s on the outside, it’s about the inside. Kelly credits this period as the one that educated her daughters and helped alter their perception. She firmly believes that without breast cancer, they may not have learned what they did through the process.
After putting up a fight, coming out victorious and reflecting on her journey, Kelly is far more aware. She’s aware of what she has, what there is to be appreciative of and what’s important. In a more factual light, she’s aware of the distress, suffering and susceptibility surrounding breast cancer. “I thought I was immune because I was healthy, [it] didn’t run in my family, I had a mammogram every year,” Kelly said. Now, she knows just how incorrect those thoughts are, which is why she’s hoping to spread the knowledge she’s gained. Kelly stated, “I’ll share my story with anybody because if it can help somebody else along the way, why wouldn’t I share it?”