PICKENS COUNTY – Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley is doing her part to help raise cancer awareness.
Kelley, along with several others, shaved her head at an event sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network on Saturday.
Kelley, whose brother died of pancreatic cancer last year, said she is hoping to raise awareness.
“The main reason I do this is to raise awareness,” Kelley said. “I run into women all the time that won’t leave their house because they are so embarrassed because they’ve lost their hair. It’s just so traumatic and it’s so important to stress that it’s okay to be bald. You can be beautiful and bald.”
The coroner said the idea came during an impromptu conversation a couple of months back.
“Elisha Raines stopped me in Copper River and we started talking about our hearts to raise money for cancer,” Kelley said. “Since she’s a beautician so we decided we were going to shave our heads. I had done it a few years back and thought it was a really cool way to raise awareness.”
It was then Kelley said she contacted the action network.
“We contacted Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and they were so excited about it,” Kelley said. “They didn’t really have any fundraisers in South Carolina and this was something we could do to help raise awareness.”
After two months of planning, Kelley was able to organize an event for the cause in the K-Mart parking lot in Easley. Kelley said the event featured live music, food and several folks who were willing to go bald for the cause.
Kelley said her husband and sister shaved their heads as well.
“It’s so worth it,” Kelley said. “I would not hesitate to do it again.”
Kelley said the facts surrounding pancreatic cancer are very dark, and hopes research can provide a little more hope for patients.
“Pancreatic cancer is horrible,” Kelley said. “600 people in South Carolina die every year from pancreatic cancer. Out of every 100 people that are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, only six survive five years. 94 people out of 100 are going to die. My brother only lived two months (after he was diagnosed).”
As the Pickens County coroner, Kelley said she sees the effects of cancer on a daily basis.
“Doing what I do and seeing this kind of thing all the time, I just thought it was so important to raise some awareness,” Kelley said. “Doing this really made me realize that people do look at you different and the more of us that do this, hopefully the less people will notice.”
Kelley said by 2040, pancreatic cancer will be the second leading cause of death.
“It’s growing that fast,” she said.
For more information visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at www.Pancan.org