Video: Cancer survivor helps others

By Dawn Fratangelo Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/5/2006 11:52:13 AM ET 2006-06-05T15:52:13

Veteran officer Kelly Turner shows rookies how to protect each other during a hot pursuit.

Turner knows how crucial that backup from fellow officers is – especially when she got the news: stage three breast cancer.

“And so I sat there for a few minutes and I said cancer,” Turner recalls. “I hung up the phone, cancer? And I just kept repeating the word cancer.” 

After chemotherapy, seven operations and complications, Turner was out of work for 18 months.

“And then I was sick: nauseous, throwing up, I couldn't smell, I couldn't taste” Turner says.

She got her regular salary, but not the overtime the single mother counted on to make ends meet.

So, her colleagues stepped in. Actually, wheeled in with a motorcycle fundraiser.

“We all work together here, we're all a family, and we all suffer when one officer is injured or ill,” says Sgt. Romano Ratti, the fundraiser organizer.

Donations totaled $16,000. That generosity did more than just help Turner. It inspired her.

“If people can fundraise for me, then that's what I'll do, I'll fundraise for somebody else,” Turner says.

And so began the chain fund. With charity drives – like a survivor’s garden party. Turner is raising money to help families affected by cancer with living expenses. People like Eric and Candace Spencer.

A brain tumor has Eric in a wheelchair unable to work. The fund picked up their bills for a month.

“If someone can just give you peace of mind for just the smallest amount of time, it's a break that we got and we appreciate it, you know,” Candace Spencer says.

The fund has helped 10 families in Connecticut so far.

“You don't have to be a doctor to try to find a cure for cancer, Spencer says. “Everyday people help.”

Kelly Turner, the shy officer now a public speaker running a non-profit organization, hopes to help thousands.

“Cancer brought everything that I wasn't out of me and now I am…” Turner says.

“And there's no going back I have a feeling,” Spencer says.

“No, I can't go back, I can't stop,” Turner says

Now cancer free, there is little doubt she will.

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