Kelsey had a healthy childhood and was never sick. Twenty-two, in nursing school and planning a wedding, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Receiving a diagnosis of a life threatening illness had been far from Kelsey’s radar.
“To be faced with a life threatening disease is not something you plan for or even THINK could happen to you.”
In the blink of an eye, Kelsey’s life transformed from the life of a normal 22 year old, to the life of a cancer patient. Despite her horrible situation, Kelsey believes God changed her path for a reason. A natural optimist, Kelsey maintained a positive attitude, and refused to allow Cancer to destroy her. Even so, Kelsey often struggled with feelings of fear, sadness, and grief for the life that she had once lived. In order to provide her mind and body a distraction from the reality of cancer, Kelsey and her mother began making scarves out of old tee shirts. The scarves provided a way for the community to support Kelsey in her battle by raising money for treatment and Kelsey’s upcoming wedding. The business took off. CNN even came to Kelsey’s house to report on Kelsey’s “scarf factory”!
One of CNN’s viewers saw Kelsey’s story and was so inspired that they nominated Kelsey for The Front Row Foundation. Although Kelsey had never heard of The Front Row Foundation before, she was beyond excited for her front row experience.
Having always admired Ellen and enjoyed The Ellen Show, Kelsey’s decision to see The Ellen Show was made within seconds. Kelsey felt that Ellen was the perfect embodiment of the attitude that would help Kelsey to overcome her cancer. Ellen’s generosity, positivity and the way she brings joy to others are all things that inspire Kelsey. During such dark times, this is exactly what Kelsey needed.
Kelsey’s front row experience included; touring Hollywood by limo, delicious food, a fancy hotel, and being in the front row at Ellen! She also got to sit in Ellen’s famed red chair. Having never been to the west coast before, Kelsey was truly feeling 22. Not only did Kelsey get to see Ellen and visit the west coast, thanks to the front row foundation, but Kelsey also made friendships that would last for the rest of her life. Kaile, her event coordinator and Sherri Dickie a Front Row supporter, met Kelsey in Hollywood and have remained in Kelsey’s life as friends.
Two weeks later, Kelsey learned that she had relapsed from her cancer. To make matters worse, she also lost her first child when she was 18 weeks pregnant. During this dark time, Kelsey and her husband often reminisced on the wonderful weather and happiness they had found during Kelsey’s Front Row experience.
“Whenever I think about being sad or bitter, I think about the mission of the Front Row Foundation and it inspires me to take a front seat in my life, and smile and have fun just like Ellen asks of her audience!”
A motto of the front row foundation is to live life in the front row. Kelsey lives her life in the front by choosing Joy. Kelsey refuses to live life in the back seat.
“We all face hardship, we do not have to let it define our lives or our happiness. We can’t climb mountains if we choose to camp permanently in the valley.”