JES thinks pink by recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published 5:20 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

Jemison Elementary School recognized Breast Cancer Awareness month on Friday by wearing pink.

Jemison Elementary School recognized Breast Cancer Awareness month on Friday by wearing pink.

In November 2013, Jemison resident Kelley Pace received a telephone call with devastating news.

“I remember picking up the phone, and they told me that I had breast cancer,” Pace, 38, said. “I was in shock when they told me and cried the rest of the drive home.”

Pace works as the bookkeeper at Jemison Elementary School and discovered a lump in her breast in 2013 that caused her alarm.

“I have always been active with exercising, I am a mom of two kids, I would like to think I am pretty healthy, but I knew something wasn’t right when I performed a self-examination,” Pace said. “I went to the doctor, they ran some tests and found that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer.”

Pace had a Lumpectomy in November and December 2013, started chemotherapy in January 2014, and completed 35 rounds of radiation.

“I think the hardest part of the whole process was the moment I started losing my hair,” Pace said. “I know it seems silly because you tell yourself it is just hair, but I think that moment when I was washing my hair and it began to fall out in clumps in my hands was when it hit me that I was really sick. That was the hardest part for me.”

During the rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Pace was able to still work at JES.

“Everyone here was so great during the whole process,” Pace said. “When I was feeling up to it, I tried to come into work and would just stay in my office. I was very fortunate to be able to do that.”

School bookkeeper Kelley Pace battled cancer and was recently declared "cancer free."

School bookkeeper Kelley Pace battled cancer and was recently declared “cancer free.”

In September, Pace received news from doctors that treatments were successful, and she was declared “cancer free” Sept. 19.

“Hearing that was a great relief,” Pace said. “This type of cancer has a very high re-occurrence rate within the first two years so I am just focusing now on making it through the next two years.”

In the meantime, Pace, along with other staff at JES, wanted to bring awareness to breast cancer during the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month by asking students and faculty to “be strong and think pink” Friday.

“We thought it would be neat to ask everyone to wear pink today in honor of breast cancer,” Pace said. “We asked everyone to wear pink in honor of anyone they might have known or do know who has had or is currently battling cancer.”

Pace was overwhelmed with the students who sported the color pink in the form of socks, shoes, shirts, hair ribbons, tutus, and jackets.

“I have had such a hard time concentrating on my work today because I can’t stop taking pictures of everyone in pink,” Pace said. “It is so neat to see the support from everyone. I think even some of the boys weren’t as reluctant to wear pink today, which was great.”

Fourth grader Rowdy Davison donned a “tough guys wear pink” shirt to show his support for breast cancer.

“It wasn’t so bad,” Davison answered when asked if he enjoyed wearing pink to school on Friday. “I think it is neat to see everyone wearing it.”

Pace said she hopes to encourage other women to receive mammograms and perform regular self-examinations.

“There was no rhyme or reason I got cancer,” Pace said. “It is not hereditary in my family, I considered myself young for something like that to happen, and it is just a good reminder that it can happen to anyone. I am just fortunate to have found it when I did.”

As Pace walked down the hallway Friday afternoon with her pink hat and “survivor” stickers on her face, she looked out the window to the playground at JES with more than 50 children dressed in pink.

“I am just very blessed to still be here,” Pace said. “To see so much support is truly overwhelming.”