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For Liz Kelleher Sells, Supporting BCRF is a Family Affair

By BCRF | May 9, 2016

Boston native sits down with BCRF to kick off Women’s Health Week

After finding a suspicious lump in her breast, found after a self-exam, Liz Kelleher Sells remembers sitting in the waiting room of the Avon Breast Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. She had an appointment with a breast surgeon, the same one who operated on her mother. Not knowing if the lump was cancerous, Kelleher Sells – a mother of two – was frozen with fear.

“My mom and I are sitting there together and I had this moment where I thought; ‘it is actually trickling [down through our family]…I got it, too,’” Kelleher Sells says.

After several tests, the lump was determined to be benign. Unfortunately, years earlier her mother, Nancy, wasn’t as lucky. She was diagnosed in 2007 following a routine mammogram. Her treatments began right before the birth of her 4th grandchild, Liz’s daughter.

Today Nancy is in remission and thriving – enjoying time with her nine grandchildren. The family: Liz Kelleher Sells, Krissie Kelleher Hatten, Caroline Kelleher Warren, Patrick Kelleher and their parents, Nancy and Rick Kelleher, had long been supporters of breast cancer research, but Nancy’s diagnosis kicked the family’s initiative into high gear. In 2011, BCRF recognized Nancy and Rick Kelleher’s generosity of spirit and commitment to medical research by honoring them with the Humanitarian Award at the Boston Hot Pink Party.

To this day, the Kellehers remain deeply involved in BCRF’s mission, annually providing support of the Boston Luncheon & Symposium which is held at the Boston Harbor Hotel.  And every May, Liz and her family are among the leadership for BCRF’s springtime Boston Hot Pink Party to be held this year on May 17.

“It’s like a family,” Liz says of BCRF’s Boston supporters. “There is a large number of women who are, every year, there and wanting to fund the research to destroy breast cancer.”

Boston, as an epicenter of medical research, has always been at the heart of BCRF’s funding priorities. This year, 30 of BCRF’s 240 research grantees hail from New England’s premier academic medical institutions.  BCRF has cumulatively awarded more than $58 million to lifesaving research in the region – with nearly $6 million awarded this year alone.

“The community of women and men in this city feel so strongly about the cause — look at the past 5 years and how far the research has come — for us as a community, as a city, it’s very special. “

Side by side with the devoted Boston community, the Kelleher family continues to demonstrate a united front against breast cancer.

“Without the research we wouldn’t be able to know what we know; we wouldn’t be able to cure any types of breast cancer. It’s a beautiful thing to watch the medicine evolve,” Kelleher Sells says on the state of Boston-supported researchers.

“Going back to that moment in the waiting room with my mother, I thought of my daughter, my sisters, my nieces…it made it very real,” Kelleher Sells said.

“It reminds us that this is important. The research is working.”

To learn more about the Boston Hot Pink Party, or to donate to the Boston community click here.

To learn more about breast cancer this Women’s Health Week or to access our resources, click here.