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Mother dies of breast cancer, 16 years later daughter works on cure

Shelby Smith was 5 years old when her mother died from breast cancer. Today, she's working on a cure as a Clemson University student.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Shelby Smith was only 5-years-old when her mother died from breast cancer. 

At just 44 years old, Crystal Smith passed away in 2003 leaving behind her husband and three very young children. 

When she was diagnosed with the disease she was an employee at Lexington Medical Center.  

Smith started working for the hospital at 19 years old. 

She spent almost 22 years there with a career that began in accounting and eventually led to her working in physician recruitment.  

Her legacy continues 16 years after her death.  Even as Smith's health declined her husband started a fund that helps breast cancer patients financially.

Shelby is currently a senior at Clemson University.  

She along with a team of researchers have been recognized internationally for their work using swine to determine the cause of the most aggressive form of breast cancer.  

When asked why this research was so important, Smith says, " I try to live every day like she is right there beside me." 

You can find more information on the Clemson University study here.

If you would like to donate to the Crystal Smith Foundation you can give through the Lexington Medical Center Foundation just click here