A week after Carla Kellum turned 15, she learned she had bone cancer. The discovery started with a fall down the stairs. “I passed it off as a misstep on the stairs, but it was actually the first sign of the cancer deteriorating my right femur bone,” shares Carla. “I thought of cancer as a disease that people get when they are older. Reality didn’t sink in until my treatment actually started. It was scary to me.” To prevent the risk of immobility, cancer reoccurrence, or even death--Carla’s parents made the difficult decision to have their daughter’s leg amputated in 2006.
Now with a permanent prosthetic leg, 22-year-old Carla is a member of the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program at the North Brandon location. “I checked other local places but I stopped looking when I came here. There are lots of people here on many different fitness levels, so I never felt like I was being judged. What really made me stay was how great the staff is. They really tried to get to know me on a personal level. You can tell everyone at the Brandon Y wants to help and encourage you to succeed in any goal you want,” says Carla.
One of those goals will be put to the test this weekend with Carla’s first 5K. When she realized the Gasparilla 5K took place on the anniversary of her February 23, 2006 amputation, Carla signed up and has been training at the Y ever since. Brandon Y Wellness Director Jessica Rickenbach and Aquatics Director Holly Reilly are so inspired by Carla, they’re running the 5K with her. "She doesn't let anything stop her. She really lives without limits," says Jessica.
Carla can’t think of better people or a better place to train. She says she leaves the Y with “great confidence to know that with hard work and willpower, I can definitely achieve anything I desire.” The Tampa Y wishes Carla and her Y running mates good luck this Saturday!
Photo Cutline: For months, Carla has been training at the Brandon Y for this weekend’s Gasparilla 5K .