’90 DUHS grad featured at D.C. ‘Race for Cure’Published 5:33pm Monday, May 31, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
A 1990 Dowagiac graduate who lives in West Virginia for her husband’s job with the Coast Guard, and their daughter are one of seven pairs selected for a place of honor in the Global Spirit of Survivors Parade during the opening ceremony of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this weekend in Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, June 5, cancer-free Kim Ownby and her daughter, Amelia, join more than 45,000 participants at the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure on The National Mall. Kim, diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009, will be representing more than 1.5 million U.S. breast cancer survivors, according to her mother, Kay Gray, who works at Dowagiac District Library.
Up to 75 percent of net proceeds raised will help fund life-saving breast cancer programs.
Remaining dollars support the Komen Global Promise Fund, dedicated to helping people around the world (GlobalRacefortheCure.org).
In an e-mail interview, Kim writes, “When I registered to do the Susan G. Komen Global Walk for a Cure, the organization asked for stories from survivors and their supporters.
“I replied by telling them that I had so many supporters, but it was Amelia, our 7-year-old daughter, who kept hope alive for me. Certainly family and friends from all over were by my side, but as adults we see life differently than children.
“She is so innocent and to her it meant ‘you’ll be better in no time, we just have to take care of you now!’ whereas adults around me feared the worst.”
Her husband, Mike, graduated from DUHS in 1988. They married in Dowagiac in 1994.
The Ownbys adopted Amelia at birth in Traverse City in 2003.
Mike’s Coast Guard career brought them to West Virginia.
The unit in Martinsburg, USCG Operations Systems Center, is the main computer and research/development facility for the entire Coast Guard.
“We met when I was 7 years old. He was 9,” Kim says. “Mike and I had been through so much trying to have a child of our own without success. We were blessed to adopt Amelia as an infant. We were grateful to be able to give a child a good life, yet it turns out that she is the one who gave me my life back by believing that I was going to be fine. She took care of me (and daddy) during my horrible chemo days by checking my temperature, reading to me and making sure I drank all the Boosts my doctor told me to drink.
“Whenever I got sad about the loss of my hair, she would make me laugh by calling me silly names.
“She had a friend of mine cut her hair for Locks of Love on Mother’s Day to help kids who are sick. Every time she sees a pink ribbon on a product in a store she points it out to everyone around with enthusiasm and wants to buy it to help the cause. Not a piece of paper that she touches will end up without having a slew of pink ribbons and hearts on it before she is done.
“This past year has been a challenge not only to us, but our entire family,” Mike stated. “Kim has fought hard and has been the strongest of all of us. My daughter has also been the stability that all of us needed to see our way through this ordeal. I could never be more proud of both of them.”
“I guess that the organization liked our story among the thousands submitted and wanted to honor us at the global walk in Washington, D.C., June 5,” Kim writes.
She worked as a legal assistant for a large defense firm, but is now freelancing for private attorneys so she can work on her own time.
“After 20 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, removal of lymph nodes, a mastectomy and, most importantly, the support of my family and friends, I can happily say I am cancer-free!”