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‘Keke’ uses positivity to beat breast cancer and raise awareness

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Keke Bell pic 6

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Even though she wears a mask at work, you can feel Kenyetta Bell's smile when you see her.

The OR support assistant at OSF Saint Anthony came to Rockford via Tennessee when she was 16 years old.

A career in healthcare isn't a big surprise for Bell who has always been taking care of people.

"I've always been a hands on person, helping my grandmother and just always taking care of kids," Bell said

"I definitely always took care of people and family all the time."

Kenyetta, or 'Keke' when you meet her, has always tried to live her life on the lighter side.

Keeping herself up regardless of what life throws at her.

That mindset was put to the ultimate test on September 26, 2019.

The day Keke was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"The first thing I thought was fear and doubt and disbelief," Bell said.

"I saw Mt. Everest in front of me. How can I get to the top of this? I realized it's a big obstacle but I can get to the top."

A journey of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation now towered over Keke.

However, her spirit shined through, facing every challenge with that patented smile.

Today, Keke is on the other side of cancer with daily medication and one more surgery to go.

She sees the experience as a reinforcement of her love of life.

"Every day is the best day of my life. Each day I wake up is the best day of my life," Bell said.

Despite her nature optimism, there were times where Keke struggled to keep going.

If it weren't for the support of her family and co-workers at OSF, she may not be where she is today.

"It's just overwhelming support. I can't thank them enough. I really appreciate and love them all and I just can't thank them enough for the support," Bell said.

Looking back at Mt. Everest, Keke is now toward the top, staring down at everything she has accomplished in just over a year as a cancer patient.

However, her journey isn't done yet.

Now she wants to help others overcome the same obstacles she did.

Not just this month for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but year round as well.

Keke wants to be a "miracle" for others to look at and see the importance of getting checked for cancer before it's too late.

"If you're scared to get the mammograms just do it. Like that Mt. Everest that was there in front of me, I'll be there at the top reaching down and holding your hand and I'll be there for you too," Bell said.

"I'm a survivor and you can be a survivor too. I'm your sister. You can do this. You can do this. We're survivors together."

Keke's story is one of many in our community showing how to persevere and pay it forward to others.

We want to hear from you about the people making a positive impact in the stateline.

You can let us know by filling out a nomination form here or by emailing

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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