Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies will sport “Pink Badges” this month for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to honor breast cancer survivors and fighters, including a survivor who hits close to home within the department.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign organized by the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise money to help with early detection, education and support services.
Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said to deputies, “It is my hope you will proudly wear the badge in honor of your spouses, mothers, sisters, and other friends or loved ones who have been victims of breast cancer and other forms of the disease.”
Diana Ford, sister of one of those deputies, Stacey Wilson, recently visited the office of the Fayette County Sheriff to pin one of the Pink Badges on her sister. Ford, who is a four-year breast cancer survivor, shared her appreciation and story for those struggling with the disease.
“The sheriff’s office called me and asked since I am a survivor, something they all knew about because of a group effort to get me there and because of the support for Stacey,” Ford said. “They remembered I was a survivor and they contacted me to honor my fight, but also it was about the Pink Badges. They show the support system we have and those who honor the struggle with breast cancer.”
About four years ago in November, Diana had taken time to perform a self-exam, looking for lumps in her breasts. She said she had a mammogram scheduled, but went to her doctor, who had originally not detected any indication of cancer, but advised her to continue with the planned mammogram.
“So we went directly from doing a mammogram right into doing an ultrasound, and same day, straight into a biopsy,” Ford said. “I believe this all happened on a Monday and I got the phone call by Thursday. I found it myself, with a self-exam. So I stress to everyone and I mean everyone, men or women, they need to do these self-exams.”
Ford said that because of the exam she performed, she knew exactly where to point the doctors, as her lump was higher and deeper than what the machine could read. She said that it might not have shown up on a regular mammogram.
“I would say to have your doctor, nurse, or a professional show you how to do a self-exam,” Ford said. “I learned how to do them by having the doctor show me and now I do them every month, always. It is in the shower with soapy hands and that is how you know. If you do them, you will know your body and you will know when something is wrong or different. By doing it regularly you will become more familiar with how to do it and what you are looking for.”
According to Ford, the doctors from Adena and within the county were aggressive in treating the cancer. Within a few months, her surgeries were complete and she was undergoing radiation, taking treatments and feeling better. Now after four years, the doctors have told her she can slow down her mammograms to once a year and that she has a 94 percent chance of never developing cancer again.
“A friend who has cancer now is going to the James (Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute), and she is fighting,” Ford said. “I was fortunate, I found it at stage one. But there are people out there who are suffering and they are literally fighting for their lives. There are people who don’t make it, and everyone is impacted by it. Mine was minimal in comparison to what others are going through. What I went through, I was fortunate to catch it when I did. Just remember to check back up and get the education out there. This is breast cancer awareness month, but there are so many other months dedicated to other types of cancer and each has the chance to be deadly. If this breast cancer month makes an impression on breast cancer, it can make an impression on all other types of cancers out there.”
Ford and her husband of 42 years, Doug, were born and raised in Fayette County and graduated from Miami Trace High School as high school sweethearts. They have three children and 13 grandchildren.