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Cancer Association of Shelby County celebrating 60 years

Donna Harrell has seen some miracles over the years working at the Cancer Association of Shelby County.

A co-worker of her’s had cancer all over her body, but completely healed.

In another case, Harrell didn’t expect a young man who visited to heal, but she later learned from his wife that he received a life-saving liver transplant.

“There’s been a lot,” Harrell said. “A lot of positives, but there’s been a few negatives, some that you get attached to. I’ve seen friends of mine I’ve known for years, didn’t make it. It’s hard when they’re young.”

The local cancer association is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. While it was an organization prior to that, it became incorporated in 1959.

“In the early years, nobody knew about us, what we did,” she said. “It’s been the last 10 years we’ve really stepped up our game and hit social media.”

The association helps 80 to 110 cancer patients a year, some of whom are carryovers from the year before who are still in treatment.

“We’ve had more and more young people,” she said, specifying she meant 50 and younger. “We’ve had some that didn’t get treatment as soon as they should have because they didn’t have insurance and have a few months to live.”

According to the American Cancer Society, 2019 has had an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer.

Harrell called it an “epidemic.” Her mother died from it and her brother, aunt and uncle all have been diagnosed.

She guessed that if she were to walk down the street and ask anyone if they had been affected by the disease, everyone would say yes.

“In some way, shape or form, it’s reached everybody,” said Emily Alexander, who also works at the cancer association.

One-fourth of the association’s funding comes from Shelby County United Fund For Us (SCUFFY). Funding also comes from the association’s thrift store, located on the Public Square in downtown Shelbyville, with all proceeds going toward helping cancer patients.

Monetary donations are also appreciated and can be made in memory of someone. Residents can also create a Facebook fundraiser, or buy an insurance policy and leave it for the association.

To donate or find out more information, visit

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