Deb Kelly Medical Support Fund

Dear friends,

Try to imagine: You’re 46 years old, two sons (Bryce, 14, and David, 12), a single parent household that requires two jobs to make ends meet, and being diagnosed with cancer twice in 10 months. Stage 4 is a terrifying diagnosis….

The directors of the Marketing and Communications team at Cornell University have created this GoFundMe campaign on behalf of our colleague and friend Deb Stayer Kelly.

Deb has worked with us for four years, originally in the Marketing Department at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Through her various roles, she’s been a critical part of marketing support for all schools within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. She’s a high-performer that sees every project through to the best of her ability. She’s a loyal Cornellian graduating from the Employee Degree Program in 2000 and serving the University for a total of 13 years.

She’s also a wonderful, giving mother of two active teenage boys. She’s been struggling to provide for her sons and often works two jobs just to keep the household bills under control.

In December 2016, Deb was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer requiring a colon re-sectioning. She was also diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic form of cancer for which there is no cure. There is an 80% chance Deb will develop a secondary cancer.

Pathology revealed that the cancer had spread to a lymph node requiring two forms of aggressive chemo during winter/spring 2017. The treatments created several side effects including severe neuropathy in her hands, feet, and throat. Oncologists made the decision to discontinue chemo after six treatments. Despite the toll these treatments took on Deb’s body, we were happy to see her return to our team as her normal self.

Deb experienced ongoing pain that went undiagnosed by physicians for almost four months. Four days after her September birthday, an MRI revealed that the colon cancer metastasized in a lymph node located in her pelvis resulting in a large mass resting on a bundle of nerves. To complete surgery at this point could possibly result in paralysis. Deb is now Stage 4 and facing another aggressive treatment that includes chemo and radiation five days a week for five weeks with the goal of shrinking the mass to allow for surgery.

When asked what her plan of action was, she responded that she’ll need to drive to the treatment center (approximately an hour and a half each way) daily. We said that was unacceptable, since she’d be too fatigued from treatments to safely drive.

As you can see, Deb’s optimistic, which is great. However, we feel daily travel will be too much for her. For that reason, and many more, we are creating this page, despite her best efforts to keep this information private and manage herself.

We’d like to raise enough money to pay for a modest room near her treatment center where she can rest from Monday to Friday for five weeks. Additional funds raised will be used to manage fuel oil bills, gasoline and vehicle maintenance, furnace repairs, meals for the boys, healthcare deductibles, and everyday expenses.


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  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 25 d
  • Eric Claire 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Nicole McQuiddy-Davis 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Eric Claire 
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Sandra Paniccia 
Ithaca, NY
Deborah Stayer Kelly 
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