MYRTLE BEACH — If you ever need a shot of positive, go see Kelley Clarke at Re/Max Southern Shores.
Clarke, a Realtor, refuses to look at the negative side of anything, including her seven-year battle with cancer.
When she was diagnosed she was given two weeks to live, and so she has earned the right by this time to thumb her nose at those who fall into the oh-poor-me syndrome. And as far as her prognosis now, prognosis-schmognosis.
Nobody has any guarantees.
“You could be hit by a car today,” she said.
Clarke has not missed a day at work, despite ongoing chemotherapy, and she was among the Realtors who kept one of the Grand Strand’s money machines going through the dark days of the recession.
Realtors are the first line of contact for many of those planning a move to the Grand Strand. Without their work, the area’s development would be very limited, said Trina Dusenbury, senior vice president and mortgage banking manager for Coastal Carolina National Bank.
Bankers hear from potential buyers after the buyers have talked with Realtors.
“We get calls every day from people who are ready to relocate,” Dusenbury said.
With a home purchase, there is a potential boost to the home construction industry and the impact of the day-to-day money spent be new residents, which can translate into new jobs.
Clarke and her husband, Jeffrey Clarke, moved to the Grand Strand 18 years ago when he opened his financial services office in Murrells Inlet. The couple lived in northern West Virginia, where Kelley worked as a children and family mental health therapist and a hospice director. Growing up, she and her family vacationed in Myrtle Beach and so it was an easy choice for a destination.
“I always loved it here,” she said. “You have the seasons. You have the hometown feel.”
She worked for a series of real estate firms before settling at Southern Shores about eight years ago.
Clarke said she has built up a network of buyers and sellers and so there is always business, even during a down economy. But when the big one hit in 2008, Clarke used the time to reevaluate and refocus rather than moan about what used to be and wasn’t anymore .
What she came to was “You have to spend money to make money,” she said.
She sees each day as both a blessing and a challenge, with each being different than the one before. She loves meeting people.
“I always try to get to know their story,” she said.
Clarke is a self-identified workaholic who’s at it 12 hours a day. She works at home after leaving the office. She even works while she’s getting her chemotherapy treatments.
She recalled being set up with her computer in a hall while getting one treatment. A nurse came by and told her she needed to be in the room with the other chemo patients, on her back and at rest during the procedure.
Clarke told the nurse that, no, she was accustomed to working while the chemicals were fed into her body and stayed at her post.
She’s showed homes when she was bald from the chemotherapy.
She has no doubt that her all-consuming positive attitude has something to do with the fact that she’s held off the grim reaper – whom she isn’t afraid of. But there’s also the fact that both her parents were Methodist ministers, which was the foundation for her deep spiritual beliefs now.
Most of all, though, she credits her doctors.
She said the diagnosis confused her rather than depressed her. She had always exercised and eaten healthily, so the last thing she expected to hear was that she had a life-threatening illness. Even then, her immediate reaction was to start figuring out how she was going to fight.
She gets chemo treatments every 28 days and can eat nothing hot for a day before and a week after. The chemicals used are strong and can cause blisters on your hands and feet, so she’s careful about being in the sun.
Nevertheless, about two weeks ago she got the blisters on her feet, and it was the only time in seven years she has moaned about the disease, she said.
And wouldn’t you know it, one of her co-workers gave her a pair of shoes that allowed her to walk without a lot of pain.
That’s the great thing about the team at Southern Shores, she said, quickly switching back to the positive from a very brief description of a moment of negativity.
“I don’t want anybody to think I can’t do my job,” she said.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.