Kelly Brown is extremely thin.
In her 40s, the Killeen resident wears the same size clothes as her 12-year-old daughter. Her face is hollow, but her eyes sparkle.
The three-time breast cancer survivor considers herself one of the lucky ones.
“I got breast cancer the first time in 1997, then again in 2004,” she said. “In 2007, the tumors came back again.”
Before 1997, Brown was diagnosed with and survived both cervical and uterine cancers, which caused hemorrhaging and resulted in a full hysterectomy. Brown’s mother died of breast cancer.
“I definitely have to exercise my faith. These have been life-or-death surgeries where I could’ve died. But I made it,” Brown said. “A lot of people are not here anymore to share their stories. I am blessed. Despite the obstacles and challenges, I made it through.”
Surgeries that saved Brown’s life and the lives of literally millions of people have been funded by the American Cancer Society. The organization’s largest global annual fundraiser, Relay for Life, steps off this weekend in Copperas Cove followed by events throughout Central Texas.
The money funds research grants including one in Temple awarded to Dr. Sharon DeMorrow through Texas A&M University, Department of Internal Medicine, which is housed at Scott & White.
The four-year, $684,000 grant is being used to find ways to regulate cancerous cell growth.
“Half of our organization’s annual income comes from Relay for Life to make these grants possible,” said Amanda Charbonneau of the American Cancer Society. “Our purpose is to remember our loved ones we’ve lost and celebrate our survivors.”
Relay for Life raised $119 million of the $438 million collected by the American Cancer Society last year. Copperas Cove’s Relay for Life is from noon to midnight Saturday at the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
Fifteen teams signed up for the event with the goal of raising $42,000.
The Bell County Relay for Life event split into two separate events a few years ago with walks now in Killeen and Temple. Killeen’s event, scheduled for May 3, has nearly 100 teams signed up with a fundraising goal of $150,000. It will be held at Shoemaker High School.
Gatesville hosts its own Relay for Life this year on May 16 at Faunt LeRoy Park.
Twenty-three teams signed up and have raised $32,000.
The location for the Lampasas event has not been determined, but it is scheduled on May 10 with 10 teams currently participating, having raised $6,000.
The Temple event is May 31 at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.
More than 20 teams signed up to help reach the $75,000 goal.
To register for a Relay for Life event or to donate to a participant, go to www.cancer.org.