By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Since 1995, Donna Kingsley has been a part of Lee County Relay for Life.
The first one, she walked in memory of her grandmother. She and husband Robby organized survivor’s dinners in honor of his dad and her mom through the years.
But Friday night at Fairpark will be the American Cancer Society’s volunteer’s first her as the member of an exclusive club – cancer survivor. Kingsley, who has served as the I Can Cope cancer support group coordinator since 2008 said she is looking forward to celebrating winning her battle over thyroid cancer with the survivors and friends who have been so supportive.
“I am so, so thankful that we caught my cancer early,” Kingsley said.
Even before her diagnosis, cancer hit close to home for Kingsley. Between her and husband Robby Kingsley’s families, 11 people have battled some form of the disease. Far from dwelling on the difficulties cancer can cause, Relay for Life has been an uplifting experience for Donna Kingsley.
“That first Relay it rained on us all night long. But it was a very uplifting experience for me,” Kingsley remembered. “We were all contributing to one great thing.”
Everywhere Kingsley has worked, she has spread the seeds of Relay for Life.
Over the years, she has helped start teams at Style-Line Furniture and Premier Dental. When she began her current job with Woodmen of the World’s state office in Tupelo, she made they knew of her commitment to the monthly support group and Relay for Life.
“That’s one reason I’m hiring you,” she remembers her boss telling her. “They’ve been so supportive… it fits right in with the mission for Woodmen of the World.”
Her experiences volunteering and the close friendships with cancer survivors combined with her faith and the support of her family gave Kingsley a great sense of peace as she faced a cancer diagnosis.
“I knew deep down that down that no matter what happened or what happens, I’m going to be OK,” Kingsley said.
Kingsley’s mother, Sue Davis of the Auburn community, fought rare, advanced liver cancer for two and a half years with a positive attitude drawn from her strong faith.
“My mother was an inspiration,” Kingsley said. “We had her two years longer than they said we would. God was good to us.”
Kingsley traces her volunteerism back to her mother, too. Her sister, Lisa Trim, who brought her along to that first Relay for Life, volunteers with church and a local food pantry in Warrensburg, Mo. Her other sister, Marie Steele, serves as the Lee County Family Resource Center child advocacy center director.
“I have to say that I believe my mother would be very proud of her daughters,” Steele said. “We are carrying on her love and care for others by us doing what we can to make a difference.”