Rock Hill mom embodies ‘contagious’ spirit as school volunteer while battling cancer

Rock Hill mom Kelly Klitzka can be found nearly every day helping out in the office and assisting teachers at Mount Gallant Elementary School.

Klitzka, 33, never waivers in her dedication to the school, despite battling stage four cancer.

“It helps us give back to (the teachers) and show our appreciation for all the work they do for the students,” she said.

Klitzka’s 7-year-old son Dylan is in second grade at Mount Gallant. She visits him at lunch and waves to him in the hall.

“He enjoys it. He knows mommy is in the office,” Klitzka said.

In 2010, Klitzka was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, or bone cancer. After multiple surgeries and more than a year of chemotherapy, Klitzka’s cancer kept returning.

In 2012, cancer had spread to multiple parts of her body. She lost part of her right lung to surgery in 2012 and has undergone radiation.

“We’re hoping chemo either stabilizes it or shrinks it,” Klitzka said. “We know it’s not going to get rid it of it. It’s a battle.”

Klitzka stopped working in 2011 because of her treatments. Her Mount Gallant school family, husband and son lend support.

“Everybody loves Kelly,” said Stephanie Biggers, who also volunteers at the school. “She doesn’t complain. She’s very friendly to everybody.”

Mount Gallant Principal Jacob Moree said Klitzka doesn’t focus on her cancer.

“It’s not ever anything that she talks about or expects pity for. She’s here every day free of charge,” he said. “The thing about Kelly that strikes me most is her spirit. She has the most amazing, contagious, strongest spirit of anybody I’ve been in contact with.”

A Mount Gallant teacher made purple T-shirts in honor of Klitzka that read: “We all struggle ... I just don’t quit. #Notanoption. #KellyStrong.”

“Everybody here is great,” Klitzka said. “I could not have done it without that emotional support.”

There’s one person Klitzka said who gives her strength more than any other - her son.

“That’s my world,” Klitzka said. “He’s why I keep going.”

Klitzka’s love for her son is obvious to all who know her, Biggers said.

“I think that gives her more pain than anything with knowing what could happen,” she said. “He’s special for her.”

On Mother’s Day, Klitzka said she is looking forward to seeing the movie “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” with Dylan. She will be in treatment next week.

“I’m just looking forward to spending time with my son,” Klitzka said. “I’m going to try to spend as much time with my family as I can.”

Klitzka said friends, family and Mount Gallant teachers and volunteers have been a shining light in the fight for her life.

“I cannot express enough, thank you for everybody who’s been there for me,” she said. “Having that emotional support backbone, it really helps on the bad days.”

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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