Cindy Kline dreams of a world without cancer and does her part to find the cure.
“If a little is done by many, a lot can be accomplished by all,” said Mrs. Kline, Cherokee County coordinator of the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life.
“We can make a difference. Every individual person can make a difference,” she said. “You don’t have to conquer the world or spend 40 hours a week volunteering. If you just do a little bit, you’ve made a difference, and you never know whose life you may save.”
Mrs. Kline, a wife, mother of two and professional psychologist, spends every spare moment helping others who are in the battle of their lives. Her efforts have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and supported countless cancer survivors through various cancer society programs.
“One day we are going to find a cure,” she said. “I know that, and I have every intention of being alive to see it and celebrate that success,” she said.
Cherokee County raises a surprising amount of money for its size. With the help of several large corporate sponsors and between 35 and 45 smaller teams, the county of 52,000 people has raised over $300,000 for cancer research in past Relay For Life events.
The fundraisers are as different as the people hosting them, but the county is active in the fight against cancer with Kline at the helm of the organization.
“Cindy has a knack of motivating people,” said longtime friend and relay volunteer Ann Kelley. “She is active in the community, attends so many events and functions associated with not only relay but other civic organizations … Cindy doesn’t believe in the word no; she will find alternatives. If one path is closed she will find another.”
The fight against cancer is personal to Mrs. Kline, who lost both of her parents to the disease. She first got involved with the American Cancer Society about 10 years ago when her mother, Pat Turner, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It was caught extremely early, but she had radiation, chemo and surgery,” she said. “There was less than a 10 percent chance of it coming back, and when it came back, it was already metastasized though her body.”
Mrs. Kline said her mother lost her battle, but cancer research trials sponsored by the American Cancer Society extended her life.
“She lived to see all of her grandchildren born and lived until they could all walk, talk and call her ‘Granny.’ It was amazing,” Mrs. Kline said.
Her father was diagnosed last year and lost his battle after six months.
“I feel being a part of the American Cancer Society has given me a chance to fight back not only on my mother and father’s behalf, but also for so many others,” Mrs. Kline said.
The battle is a common one. Mrs. Kline said one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes, but medical advances are helping them live longer than ever before.
“It’s one of the (most tragic) things about cancer is it doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, rich, poor or what nationality you are … cancer does not discriminate,” she said.
Mrs. Kline said the cancer society goes deeper than just raising funds for research. It also supports education, early detection and hosts programs to help cancer survivors and their families.
“Everything we do is not about raising money, but everything we do is dependent on the money we raise,” she said.
The Cherokee County Relay For Life hosts events all year because “cancer never sleeps and survivors fight all year.”
Kline goes to Washington and Austin each year to lobby for cancer research funds, early detection programs and palliative care in hospitals.
“I don’t do it for selfish reasons or for credit, I do it because I think we should all be socially obligated to do what we can to improve the lives of those around us, and this is one thing that I’ve found that perhaps I can make a small difference,” she said.
Mrs. Kline is called to help fight cancer but encourages all to get involved in anything that helps others.
“If we all say, ‘I’m going to do my best to have a positive impact on others and my community,’ the world would be a better place,” she said.
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