The first thing I noticed in my newspaper this morning was a front-page story that former first lady Betty Ford had died. If you’re old enough to still read a print newspaper instead of getting your news exclusively online, you’ll remember her. If you’re not, you need to know what an extraordinary woman she was.
I was 19 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974. At that time, cancer was something you just did not talk about. But Betty Ford was as open and honest about her diagnosis as she was about every other part of her life, a trait that sometimes got her into trouble but also endeared her to many.
The impact of her sharing this news was immediate and widespread. The story I read this morning said that women were flocking to their doctors for checkups before she even left the hospital. It quoted Ford telling people in 2001, “It was kind of like, if the first lady can have breast cancer, anyone can have breast cancer.”
Through her openness and honesty, Betty Ford did more to raise awareness of breast cancer than a million pink ribbons could ever do. May God bless and keep her.