Beavercreek teen, diagnosed with cancer months before tornado destroyed family’s home, dies

Beavercreek teenager Kelsey Belcher died after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 16. "She really knew how to light up a room," her brother said. CONTRIBUTED
Beavercreek teenager Kelsey Belcher died after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 16. "She really knew how to light up a room," her brother said. CONTRIBUTED

A Beavercreek family recovering from the Memorial Day tornadoes is grieving after their daughter died from cancer late Sunday night at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Kelsey Belcher was 16.

Belcher was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2019, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells, her older brother Anthony Landers said. She died around 10:45 p.m. Sunday.

“She really knew how to light up a room. She was extremely goofy,” Landers said. “She always did kind of quirky things.”

In May 2019, the family’s apartment in Beavercreek was destroyed in the Memorial Day tornado outbreak. Just hours before tornadoes swept through, the Belcher family had a fundraiser for Kelsey.

Her parents said they had to use the $600 raised for her medical care to replace the essentials in their destroyed apartment instead.

The family was able to find another place to live in Beavercreek.

ExploreTornado damages force family to use daughter’s cancer care funds to pay for essentials

“They’re doing much better than I would be doing. They are handling it as well as any parent could,” Landers said of his mother and stepfather. “Because it was so progressive, and wasn’t so sudden, they’ve had time to reflect and work through their emotions. But they’re still somewhat of a mess.”

Belcher was a fighter. She had cleft palate surgery when she was 1. At 9 she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“She was extremely optimistic. It didn’t matter what the situation was, she always found a light in it, even with all of the things she had to go through,” Landers said. “She always worried about everyone else. She was just very, very selfless.”

Belcher had seven brothers and sisters, some of them half siblings. Landers said Belcher’s family was able to be in the hospital with her before she died.

Landers recalled playing dolls with Belcher, even though he was about nine years older, because it made her happy.

“She had a surplus of baby dolls,” he said.

When Landers was going to Wayne High School and Belcher was about 6, she wanted to be a cheerleader for Halloween. She painted his football jersey number on her face and wore a cheerleading uniform.

“She kept bugging my mom and stepdad because she wanted to be a cheerleader. She was very adamant about dressing up as a cheerleader for me,” he said.

Landers said his sister would have wanted his family to help others.

“Anyone going through a similar situation, they’re not alone, our family has been going through it for two years and we completely understand all of the feelings and the emotions. The panic at night when you get a phone call and you aren’t certain who it’s going to be or what it’s going to be about,” he said. “Kelsey really embraced trying to help others, so moving forward if there is anything our family can do to help anyone else, me and others in our family would be willing to put forth an effort to help anyone in a similar situation.”

Belcher’s eldest sister set up a PayPal fundraiser to help pay for her burial services. The family has a goal of raising $20,000. Plans for Belcher’s funeral services have not been made yet.

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