Cop of the Week

by Melissa Bailey | May 10, 2006 8:46 AM | | Comments (1)

Hey Oprah: This woman has a story to tell.

Breast cancer threw a wrench in her life as a veteran patrol cop and single mom. Jobless and financially strapped, she survived on fellow officers’ donations. Now she’s working double time to help other cancer patients stay financially afloat. Officer Kelly Turner’s dream? To earn her cancer charity, the CHAIN Fund, a spot on Ms. Winfrey’s show.

Turner, 41, has been with the city police force for 15 years. She was working as a patrol cop in the Chapel/Dwight/Edgewood area in the summer of 2001, when she got the bad news: Her doctor had found three tumors in her breast. “He said it’s cancer! I kind of freaked out. I freaked out.”

“My life came to a complete halt,” says Turner, sitting in her office at the police academy this week. “That day, everything that could possibly have ran through my mind,” did. “I was still trying to figure out how, and am I gonna die?”

The breadwinner for her household (just her and her son), Turner was suddenly out of work. The cancer was growing quickly — she had to leave the force within the week.

Fellow officers jumped to respond. They took donations as soon as they heard. Then they threw a “Signal 4” (for “officer in distress”) motorcycle ride and party, raising another $1,300. “They gave me the sack of money and basically said, do what you gotta do.” Turner never forgot that. Especially after a chance encounter at the doctor’s office.

On her way into the doctor’s office one day, she came across an old friend from high school, a drill team teammate. The woman told Turner how cancer had wrecked her life: she lost her job, her home, couldn’t meet utility bills; her kids were getting kicked out of private school. Turner realized how lucky she’d been.

The police force “just blessed me beyond belief,” but this woman had no such thing. “That bothered me and it never left me. It was the contrast of those two [stories] that birthed the CHAIN Fund.”

Turner couldn’t start right away on the patient fund, which gives financial assistance to cancer patients in need. She was beset with hospital visits and a litany of ailments. “Everything happened so fast for me — four and a half months of chemo. My hair fell out, my nails turned black, my skin turned black…” She had a mastectomy. At times, she could barely walk.

“My days were long — long and … just long. Just going to the doctor every day — that was like my job.” When she felt well enough, she researched setting up a patient fund. She started selling these pins (pictured) through her church. They went by the hundreds. The proceeds grew into the Compassionate Hands Assisting Interim Needs, Inc., or the CHAIN Fund. The money — up to $12,000 per year per cancer patient’s family — gets sent directly to pay off the family’s mortgage, rent and health insurance.

Now Turner’s back on her feet, cleared of cancer, back at work. She’s been transferred to a desk job at the police academy, helping with recruitment.

That’s where she likes to be — “behind the scenes,” helping people. On top of her full-time job she throws fundraisers and reads applications from cancer patients across the state in need of financial help. So far, she’s reached 10 families. Helping more is a matter of getting attention, funds and volunteers.

That’s where Oprah comes in.

“Every time I tell someone about what I’m doing, ‘You gotta be on Oprah’, that’s what they say.” Turner’s determined. She’s designed a flyer directing supporters to put in a good word for her on Oprah’s site, which has posted a call for breast cancer survivors. “She’s calling me,” said Turner. With an award last week and an interview with FOX News set for today, she’s well on her way.

To contact the CHAIN Fund, call 530-3439 or send a comment through the website.

(To read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(To suggest an officer to be featured, click here.)

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Posted by: Cj Walker | June 5, 2006 12:37 AM

I am sending this as a cry for help I also want to know if I can help sell pins.I am a 6 month survivor of breast cancer.

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