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Stanton woman honored in Oaks Day survivors’ tribute

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:50 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - This year marks the 13th year for something very special that happens at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day. It’s the annual Survivors Parade.

This year, breast and ovarian cancer survivors won’t get the chance to take the track. Instead though, 146 survivors chosen from last year will still be honored in a socially distanced video tribute. Among the survivors is a Stanton woman who is living proof that listening to your body is life-saving.

Sometimes life can seem like it comes out of left field, and when life threw Natalie Faulkner a curveball she sat down and wrote about it.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing, so it’s always been therapeutic for me,” said Faulkner.

Her blog, A Beautiful Blessed Mess, became a safe space for her to share a difficult journey.

“I really felt it heavy on my heart to be transparent with everybody, to share my story and to share was I was going through,” said Faulkner.

In 2018 at just 31 years old Faulkner, a busy wife and mother, realized something just didn’t feel right.

“I started having a pain under my arm on the side of my breast,” said Faulkner.

Her primary care doctor found the lump, but a mammogram revealed it looked normal.

“It fell within that margin, it was smooth, it was small and it’s probably a fibroid, let’s follow up in six months,” said Faulkner.

She did, and that mass had doubled in size. With no family history, Faulkner was being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

“It’s the most rare, I think it accounts for about 10-15 percent of all breast cancers and it is the most aggressive,” said Faulkner.

With no time waste she had 20 weeks of chemotherapy.

“I had a strong, deep army behind me,” said Faulkner.

For Faulkner, there was never a second thought about surgery.

“I knew from the get go that I wanted them both gone, it was not question for me. I wanted to make sure that I was giving myself the best possible scenario at life,” said Faulkner.

Two years later, Faulkner is writing a new a new blog post-- this one about living in the moment.

She may not be able to walk the track like in years past, but she is still being recognized on Oaks Day alongside 145 other breast and ovarian cancer survivors to mark her own story of survival.

“It’s an amazing honor, you know not that anybody wants to go through what we have all been through, but it’s nice to be recognized and to be celebrated,” said Faulkner.

Faulkner’s message to other women is that you have to be your own advocate and you have to take time for your health, because if you don’t, who will?

She’s made it to the two year’s mark.

Since the Survivor’s Parade started, it’s raised millions of dollars for women’s health. With the sale of every Pink Lilly drink, a dollar is donated back.

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