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A Success Story - Kelsey Pelles

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Kelsey Pelles

Kelsey had graduated from University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, majoring in Nursing/Physician Assistant Studies.  Kelsey's battle with cancer has led her to change her career plans to make a difference in the medical field.  She has survived Renal Cell Carcinoma and the removal of her right kidney.  In her own words:

“Double-double's, post-season honors, playoffs, the sound of a basketball dribbling, the swish of the net as a perfect shot falls through the basket, this is the world where I have peace.  The excitement of starting college and the thought of majoring in Business because it would be so easy to find a job.  Yeah, my life seemed planned out well enough.  Little did I know a cruel twist of fate was waiting around the next turn. 

In August of 2011, I was hit with news that I was never expecting.  I was perfectly healthy and playing basketball.  I went into the doctor for an ultrasound just as a check-up for break-through bleeding.  They told me that there was a mass on my right kidney.  Unfortunately, this was only one week from the day that I was scheduled to move into college for my freshman year.  Throughout that week, I had to go through several long tests and meet with a kidney specialist to schedule my surgery, but I knew I had to somehow make it through to the end of my first semester.  Halfway through the semester, my pain was much worse in my kidney area.  We thought that if I had my surgery at that time, I would have to miss almost 3 weeks of school and I would fall too far behind in my classes.  I decided I just had to make it through the semester; which I somehow did and also achieved a 3.69 GPA.

On December 15, 2011, I had my right kidney taken out.  On January 4th, I was informed that the mass on my kidney was Renal Cell Carcinoma in stage 2 of 4; in other words, I had cancer.  The doctor said that if we had not taken it out when we did, the outcome would have been so much worse.  I felt like my entire world was coming to an end; everything was crumbling.  All I could hear, over and over again, was the word "cancer."  It felt like my heart would stop every time I heard that word: "cancer."

There were so many thoughts that were racing through my mind.  Thoughts like, "I have to drop out of school" and "My life is going to be so hard and it will never be the same again."  It was as these dreadful thoughts were floating around that I actually realized that I should not and will not let this hold me back.  I came back to school for this semester and I am going to be strong.  I have decided to get through this by helping others be motivated to work through the hardships in their lives.  If you have faith in God and believe in yourself, all things are possible!

I was originally a Business major, but due to my hospital experiences, I decided to change my major to Nursing or a Physician Assistant.  I had chosen business because the jobs are so easy to find and obtain, but now I wanted to be different.  I want to actually work for what I want.  I want to be able to help people just like the people that helped me through the rough times.  Many people today do not go into nursing hoping to help people and put smiles on their faces when they are sick, or terminally ill.  They just want to make the most amount of money for what looks to be not too much work.  To me, that is absolutely pathetic!  I work at a nursing home and I absolutely love helping people.  I love putting smiles on their faces.  I have also volunteered at retirement homes, food banks, Vacation Bible School, coaching young kids in Upward Basketball, and community service projects with our church.  If I can go in and just make one person's day, then my day is made and my heart is happy.  I really enjoy making a huge difference in peoples' lives.  This is where I have rediscovered my peace.

Even though I may not have had to endure Chemotherapy like other cancer patients, I totally understand them.  Cancer is something that can take your life in an instant.  It is the absolute scariest news that anyone of any age could possibly hear, especially young adults and teens.  Some people might think that because I did not go through chemo or radiation that I might not be considered a cancer survivor.  In reality, cancer is cancer, no matter how early or how late it is discovered and the ultimate diagnosis. 

I feel so very blessed for the outcome that came out of my ordeal.  I want to help others in any way that I possibly can; kind of like "passing it on" so to speak.  I want to live my life to the fullest and get a college degree.  I hope that I can also impact others and encourage them to fight for themselves and to stay strong through hard situations.  One day, I know that we are going to find the cure for cancer, but until that day, we need to all be here for each other and support everyone.

Thank you so much, Cancer Survivors' Fund, for your encouragement and support.  Thank you for making me feel like I am not alone on this journey.”

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