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Cancer survivor pays it forward with benefit
Kelsey Bishop, left, recently survived cancer and is now helping Tom Peterson, who has the same kind of cancer she had. - photo by Kristen Oliver

Tokens for Tom

What: Car, truck and motorcycle show hosted by Kelsey’s Cure, benefiting Tom Peterson

When: 9 a.m. Oct. 4

Where: 118 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville

Cost: Free to attend; $25 to participate in show or ride

Donate by mail: Kelsey’s Cure, 2001 Riverside Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501

More info:

A year ago, Kelsey Bishop had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant.

Today, the 24-year-old is cancer free and ready to help others.

Bishop was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. After a relapse in 2013, her friends and family started the group Kelsey’s Cure and raised enough money for Bishop and her husband, Trevor, to pay for treatment without taking on debt.

“During this time of our life, we don’t have to carry that with us,” Bishop said. “We can learn from it and grow from it. Now that I’m healthy and on the other side of this, I’ve had a huge desire to be able to assist people in my same situation.”

Bishop received her bone marrow transplant Sept. 19, 2013. Almost a year later, her bone marrow is still free of cancer and her immune system is recovering.

Bishop said going in for her transplant was “an epiphany moment,” at which time she completely changed her approach to health and wellness. She said she now eats a “whole-food-based diet,” meaning few packaged or processed foods.

The process also gave her a platform to help others, Bishop said. So when a nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center told Bishop about Tom Peterson, she wanted to help.

“One of the oncology nurses told me about him,” Bishop said. “We’ve remained friends, her and I, since my treatment. She wanted to know how Kelsey’s Cure worked and she really felt that this man needed our help.”

Peterson, who also has acute myeloid leukemia, said he did not have insurance at the time of his diagnosis in May. Kelsey’s Cure is “not an expert when it comes to insurance,” Bishop said, but they were able to help him get benefits and in some patient assistance programs.

“I thought she was a godsend – which she is,” Peterson said of Bishop. “She’s been through it, and she’s been a big help.”

To further help Peterson, Kelsey’s Cure will hold a Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show and a Motorcycle Benefit Ride on Oct. 4 at 118 Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville. Peterson said he still needs additional funds to pay existing medical bills and to afford a caregiver.

“Once I start the bone-marrow transplant, I’ve got to have a caregiver 24/7 for up to four months,” Peterson said. “That can get a little expensive.”

Peterson said he cannot schedule the transplant until he can prove he has secured a caregiver. Bishop said they hope the event will help him do so.

The event is free to attend, though donations are welcomed, and $25 for participants of the show or ride. It will include free food, live music and gifts for all participants. Awards will be given for each vehicle classification.

Peterson said he is grateful to Bishop and all those helping with the event, but he’s mostly grateful to Bishop for her compassion and comfort during this time.

“Mostly what she’s helped is my frame of mind,” he said. “Just being able to talk to her and knowing that she’s already been through everything has helped calm me down.”

Bishop said she is grateful for the opportunity to give back and for this “life-changing year.”

“I really feel like a different person,” Bishop said. “I honestly feel better than I ever did, even before my transplant. Of course I still have bad days just like any human, but I think I can finally say that I’m normal. And that’s pretty nice.”

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