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Mower County Relay for Life Honorary Chair Hopes To Inspire Others

Created: 07/23/2014 11:00 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Mower County's Relay for Life is coming up this Saturday.

It's a day when the community rallies to support cancer survivors, and this year one woman in particular will be leading the charge.

About a year ago, Kelly Joseph, of Austin, felt something was wrong with her body.

"I just noticed something wasn't quite right," Joseph said.

So she went to the hospital and had a mammogram, but it turned out negative.

Still, Joseph knew something was wrong.

"One day at work I just decided that I needed to get it checked out,” Joseph said. “Something in my head said, ‘Go.’"

After initial tests were inconclusive, Joseph was referred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"Then it was appointment after appointment, and MRIs and ultrasounds and more mammograms,” Joseph said. “And I was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma, and that's a flat cancer, so I believe that's why it wasn't picked up on the mammogram."

While the mammogram may have missed her cancer, Joseph said she doesn't want it to dissuade others.

"Mammograms are still great, everybody needs to do that,” Joseph said. “But you also have to be your own advocate. You need to realize when something's not right, you need to figure that out and you need to go."

After her diagnosis, Joseph underwent a double mastectomy, 16 weeks of chemo and six weeks of radiation treatment.

With her cancer now in remission, Joseph said she's getting stronger every day.

"I'm out and about, I'm trying to walk two to three miles a day, something I never did before I was sick," Joseph said.

Joseph was chosen as the honorary chair for this year’s Relay for Life. And while she was hesitant at first, she now says it's a title she's grown to appreciate.

"I never set out to be the pink warrior, that wasn't my intention,” Joseph said. “But if I have to do that to help other people, then that's what this was for."

Joseph said she hopes her story will encourage other women facing a similar situation.

"I've been through it, I'm proof that you live through it,” Joseph said. “I just want people to know that I am hope."

ABC 6 News is a sponsor for the Relay for Life.

Anchors James Wilcox and Laura Lee will host the event and members of our Storm Tracker 6 Weather Team will participate in a dunk tank.