Family first when it comes to breast cancer survivor Ford


For one Boonville resident, an annual breast cancer awareness event has become a family tradition.

For the 26th year in a row, Penny Ford and a team of about a dozen of her loved ones will participate in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walking event. This year, the event will be in person. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event had morphed into a drive-through style event.

The funds raised through the event — coming up on Sunday, Oct. 24, at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica — goes to research and medication development, among other supports.

“This diagnosis is not a death sentence,” Ford said, adding that the event has special meaning for her.

“My sister-in-law, Jean, had died from breast cancer in 1991, leaving her husband and six children behind. I vowed I would do everything in my power to never do that to my kids. So it would be safe to say Jean saved my life.”

Ford herself, has been clear of breast cancer since 1995.

“My husband, Jack, has been my “Rock” through this journey. Our children were 10 and 7 when we had to tell them mommy had cancer,” she said of that time, adding, “My prayer was to live and watch my children graduate from school. God has answered that prayer and my husband and I watched our children marry wonderful people and we have four awesome grandchildren. God is good.”

Ford also adds that the focus of the event is not just about honoring those who are caregivers in what is decidedly not an easy task.

“It’s like a sea of pink … all people that have been by your side through this journey,” she said, referencing the wearing of pink in support of breast cancer awareness.

For Ford, awareness, education and creation of support networks is key in the fight.

“I cannot say it enough that early detection is key. Women need to do a self breast exam and get a yearly mammogram,” Ford added.

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