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.