by Katie Mantel
Knowing Kelly was an incredible gift. Kelly was warm, full of spirit, and had a remarkable enthusiasm for new experiences. She seized every opportunity presented to her, and created opportunities when none were present. To be with Kelly was to be on an adventure, and there was never a doubt she could be anything she wanted to be. She was a writer, a runner, a traveler, a party-planner, a Diamondhead, a connoisseur of fun. Kelly approached all of her tasks with boundless energy. Be it a philosophy paper or a Halloween party, Kelly's theories were sound and her jack-o-lanterns scary.
While living in London during her junior year abroad, Kelly decided she wanted to start sketching. She had no particular skill in this area, but something about this project said so much about her as a person. Whether she was sketching the River Thames or a crowd of friends gathered in Hyde Park, Kelly was wonderful at observing the world around her. Her genuine curiosity and ability to bring out the best in others gave her drawings a personal warmth, even if they lacked accuracy, and thanks to her wonderful sense of humor, she was able to laugh at her flawed masterpieces when, for example, a self-portrait resembled an angry pro wrestler.
After graduating magna cum laude from University of Scranton in 2000, Kelly put her academic and creative talents to use as an editorial assistant at John Wiley Publishing in New York City. The following year at the age of 23, Kelly was diagnosed with melanoma.
Kelly was optimistic and determined to fight her cancer. Her strength in coping with her treatments was extraordinary. Despite her physical setbacks, Kelly continued to live life to the fullest. If she was unable to to go to work, she wrote in a journal, knitted scarves for friends and family, and tried her hand at watercolors. If she was unable to go for her morning run, she would walk laps around the hospital floor. If she was unable to meet her friends at a party, she hosted the party in her hospital room. "The Party Room," as it became known at Sloane-Kettering, was always bustling with activity, and a popular hangout for visitors and nurses alike. Kelly could always guarantee a fun time--not an easy feat in an oncology ward!
In the face of unsurmountable challenges, Kelly always maintained a positive outlook, a continued desire to move forward, and an amazing ability to connect with people near and far. In her article "When a Young Woman Has Cancer," which was published in Shape Magazine and won the prestigious Maggie Award, Kelly inspired a broad readership--her story touched so many of those readers she had never even met.