A rose without thorns

Volunteer coordinator brings rose-y disposition to job despite battle with lung cancer

Rose Bellamy has spent most of her career giving back to the community, and when she recently faced a life-changing challenge, it was the volunteer community that stepped up for her. 

Bellamy is widely known in Putnam County for donating time and resources to festivals, events and charitable organizations. 

In January 2014, her passion for giving back became her job when she was hired as Putnam Community Medical Center’s volunteer coordinator. 

“When I got this job, I told my dad, ‘See, it finally paid off,’” Bellamy said.

Janet Martin, hospital director of business development, said she and Bellamy were hired at the same time. 

“I truly appreciate her,” Martin said. “Personally, when I needed help, she was right there. She runs circles around people here.”

Last year, Bellamy was being checked for thyroid problems and had a CT scan. It was then doctors discovered her lung cancer “by chance.” 

“It was just by chance the CT scan showed the top lobe of my right lung, and they saw (the cancer),” she said. 

On Aug. 14, 2015, Bellamy’s three children were preparing to start three different schools, and she was preparing to have a portion of her lung removed. 

Bellamy anticipated a seven-to-10-day recovery time, but said she was up and moving within three days after her surgery. 

“I needed to get home. I had stuff to do,” she said. 

When the doctors told her she needed 10 cycles of chemotherapy after the surgery, Bellamy said, “It was another whammy.”

“I was ready to be back to work. I needed my people,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Bellamy’s people were busy raising money to cover the costs of her surgery and treatment. 

Bellamy said her sister created a Go Fund Me account for the cause just before her surgery in August. 

Dean Ferris, a friend of Bellamy’s for about 15 years, said he felt eager to help, as well.

“When I heard she had cancer, it touched my heart,” he said. “I just wanted to help.”

Ferris, the owner of Atomic Tees in Palatka, designed a “Rosie the Riveter” T-shirt for Bellamy’s supporters to sell to offset costs. 

As a result of donations, Bellamy said, she ended treatments in December debt-free. 

She anticipates her third “clean” screening at the end of July. 

As she’s done with her experience in each career, Bellamy used her experience with lung cancer to give back to the community. 

“Rose is 100 percent about helping people,” Ferris said. 

Bellamy sold remaining “Rosie the Riveter” T-shirts and donated the profits to the Putnam First Cancer Fund. 

“I was really moved by her selling the extra shirts to raise money for other people,” Martin said. “That was cool.”

The unsold T-shirts were given away at cancer awareness events to raise awareness for lung cancer. 

Bellamy said the lung cancer survival rate is much lower than other cancer survival rates because it’s usually not caught until it reaches later stages. She said many lung cancer patients are afraid to raise awareness because of the negative connotation, as people assume lung cancer patients “asked for it” by smoking. 

“No one fights alone,” Bellamy said. “I don’t care what you did in life, nobody deserves cancer.”

Palatka Daily News

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