Mesa mom's cancer battle inspires others to take up the fight - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Mesa mom's cancer battle inspires others to take up the fight

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Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2011 8:00 am

Seven months ago, Mesa mom and school psychologist Kelly Anderson asked community members to take a few minutes out of their day to see if they might be a bone marrow match for a cancer patient.

She stressed the need wasn't just for herself, but for more than 10,000 patients in the United States diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma each year.

Since then, about 2,000 people have joined the registry through several Valley events Kelly's supporters have organized for the National Marrow Donor Program, Kelly said in an e-mail this week.

Her fighting spirit has inspired others to battle the disease too.

Kelly's story began when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, in March. Her cancer went into remission for a few weeks this fall, before a transplant was done, and she started training for an upcoming half-marathon, her friend and colleague Scott Nelson said.

Then in November, she wrote on her CaringBridge blog, she had started feeling ill.

The cancer was back, and the search for a bone marrow match continued.

In her web posts, Kelly talks about her days in the hospital undergoing treatment, her visits with her nearly 2-year-old son, and her hopes to undergo a bone marrow transplant soon.

"I would like people to know that we feel blessed to have such a great community of support," Kelly said in her e-mail.

Moved by Kelly's story, Scott felt compelled to do something. So the Rhodes Junior High School psychologist decided to "run" in Kelly's place and continue her efforts to raise awareness about bone marrow donations.

But running isn't possible for Scott. When he was 7 years old, a sledding accident led to a brain injury. He learned to walk again, though hope was dim he would ever do that. Today, he uses hand crutches.

And for the past several weeks he's trained on a hand bicycle to complete the 13.1 miles Kelly planned to run. His efforts will be combined with a Be the Match bone marrow registry event at 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 16 at Ahwatukee YMCA.

"It's a testament to what she's been through. I can't run it but I can do the distance," he said. "I'm hoping people see in Kelly a tremendous spirit, a tremendous resilience, just a tremendous positive attitude."

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