I have been in publishing for over 7 years and I have never had a woman come tell me “I am a five time cancer survivor! That wasn’t what I set out to do with my life, but it ended up being my life’s work.” I was stunned and almost in tears just listening to Kelly Gallagher’s story. You would never suspect that Gallagher is in a fight for her life as she remains beautiful, articulate and very intelligent. I am blessed to hear her story and I know our readers will be too. I wanted her compelling story told in her own words. I know many women that are suffering with, or have not recovered from, cancer and this intimate sharing will be a blessing to all.
A WOMAN OF COURAGE AND BEYOND
“My life was not in my control,” said Kelly. “My birth father gave me to his sister because he could not take care of me. There were eleven children in that family. I grew up in a militaryenvironment surrounded by army colonels, army nurses and people who served in the United States Public Health Services. I guess you could say that discipline was a family value!
I know you are a very highly motivated and courageous woman, can you tell me who inspired you to be that way?
I am highly motivated and energized despite the fact that I’m a five-time cancer survivor powered by my 6th pacemaker. My life began to change when I was about 19 years old while attending the University of Florida. I was a surfer and on the National Scholastic Surfing Association team, and had become very active producing concerts and other ventures, when I was first diagnosed with cancer.
One day in my psychology class, my deepest darkest secrets started to erupt. I began recalling this horrible memory of being abducted and molested as a nine year old, and it hit me hard when I saw Oprah Winfrey openly talking about taboo subjects on television. She produced a special episode entitled ‘It’s Not Your Fault., which inspired me to get help. That moment, watching the Oprah show became one of my most influential turning points. It was in that moment, when all of this raw repressed emotion about my history and cancer diagnoses suddenly surfaced. Oprah’s strong spirit and fortitude inspired me and gave me hope. I embraced the idea that my focus should be on living my life and reaching my goals, as opposed to focusing on my cancer, which was out of my control along with my drug use.
As a kid, I had a few dark years where I felt like I was going to die and I was going to go out with a bang. Instead, I graduated and went on to college at Florida International University. I studied marketing and combined that with engineering and theatre. I was on the Mayor of Miami’s advisory board and very involved in a variety of activities.
Finally, my life was looking up, but in another defining moment I was hit with another devastating setback, my mom died. I was forever changed because her death was the reason I quit taking drugs.
My dad and I subsequently left Miami and drove from Florida to Alaska, since he wanted to see the Alcan Highway. While there, I was offered a great job making twice the money I was going to make at a Miami television station. I accepted my new television job and worked for a fabulous woman who became my mentor and was like my second mom.