Survivor gives back with vintage sale fundraiser

In a bid to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation, Cayman residents are digging through their junk drawers in the hope that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” 

Neon signs, wizard wands and rum barrels are some of the trinkets uncovered for the Cayman Pickers fundraiser, which is set for Friday at Calico Jacks beach bar.  

“It all started out with an idea to give back,” said breast cancer survivor Pam Kelly. 

“When I was diagnosed last year, I didn’t know what to do where to go, and the Breast Cancer Foundation helped me. They were there to cover some of my treatments and gave me emotional therapy. They helped me through the shock of having to be diagnosed with breast cancer.” 

Ms. Kelly, who has been cancer-free for four months, reached out to the Breast Cancer Foundation after being diagnosed last October, just after her 30th birthday. 

“They gave us $2,000 to help us pay bills for the treatment,” said Marc Laurenson, Ms. Kelly’s boyfriend. He said the eight rounds of chemotherapy, at a cost of $1,000 each time, caused financial strain for the couple. “Before Pam was diagnosed, we had a house and mortgage payments,” he said. 

Ms. Kelly tried her best to work full-time, but there were times she was not able to keep up the pace of being a server. 

In addition to the money donated by the foundation, her friends and family organized a fundraiser, “Pretty in Pink,” at the George Town Yacht Club, which is where she works. 

“We were able to make $17,000 on that event, which was amazing,” said Mr. Laurenson. “Every single penny is going back to the Breast Cancer Foundation as a way to say thanks.” 

Along with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Ms. Kelly had a bilateral mastectomy, which is the removal of both breasts. 

Ms. Kelly said chemotherapy was tough, but that it got easier.  

“You’re going to feel disgusting, but the hair grows back, the skin gets better, your mood improves,” she said. “Living in the Cayman Islands is really good. Not only do you have great weather, you have lots of people who know you and they love you. Everybody knows each other, and it is a lovely place to recover from such a tough disease.” 

“I’ve been in remission for four months,” said Ms. Kelly, who has just started working full-time again. 

“The key is to have a positive mind,” she said. “It can be overwhelming waking up in the morning, getting ready for work. Your body isn’t the same.” As a survivor, she wants to help other young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“What better way to give back? The idea is to raise as much money as we can, and hopefully people get involved in something that is going to create some awareness. It’s a time where I can tell my story, and if girls want, they can come to hear my side of post-cancer.” She said the event will offer people a chance to “do something fun, something different, something unusual.” 

“There will be a lot of unusual vintage things like lamps or fixtures, floppy disks, all the knickknacks you’d never imagine you’d have on island,” said Ms. Kelly. 

The fundraiser kicks off at 4 p.m., Oct. 24, at Calico Jacks on Seven Mile Beach. 

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Marc Laurenson and Pam Kelly. – Photo: Chris Court

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