Local woman invited to Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade

This year is the Kentucky Derby’s 141st anniversary, but before Saturday’s race the Kentucky Oaks runs on Friday. 

Pink is the color of choice for that race and for good reason: The Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade is a march of breast and ovarian cancer survivors. One local woman was invited to the Kentucky Oaks to represent her community and her cause.

Ruthie Barker says it’s always important to move and stay healthy, especially because it saved her life. She said she had none of the cancer risk factors. She never smoked, she didn’t have a family history of it, and she tried to stay healthy. But Barker survived a very aggressive form of breast cancer. 

“It never occurred to me that something like that would happen to me,” Barker says.

When it comes to planning for the Kentucky Oaks weekend, she already has a special outfit picked out. 

“The stargazer lily, so that’s kinda’ my theme in my hat and my jacket and everything.” Barker says. She’s planning to wear pink from head to toe, but says the color and frill is only part of a humbling experience.

Barker’s one of the 141 women chosen to walk in the survivors parade as part of the 141st Kentucky Oaks, but says she’s even luckier to have survived an aggressive form of breast cancer. She first knew something was wrong when she was stretching at the gym. She says it eventually got to the point where she couldn’t ignore it anymore, “I didn’t pay much attention to it at first but after a couple weeks it started getting worse.”

Barker says she’s grateful that her passion for health not only helped her find the cancer, but helped in her recovery as well. “There’s no doubt if I didn’t find it when I did I wouldn’t be here,” she says. 

But above all, she’s thankful for an opportunity to celebrate a fact that stays with her all the time: her survival. “You don’t take anything for granted,” she says. “I look at this every day and feel grateful.”

Barker says she wouldn’t be going to Kentucky Oaks without the support and votes of her friends and family.

She wants folks to make sure to self-check for cancer, even between doctor visits.

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