Felicia O'Bryan, 49, was not upset last Friday when threatening thunderstorms delayed her participation in the Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade presented by Kroger. Although the 138 cancer survivors had already boarded the buses that would shuttle them from the Churchill Downs grandstand to the backside of the track, O'Bryan took the delay in stride and found delight in the fact that the bus she was forced to wait out the storm in was air-conditioned. It is this positive attitude that led her daughter Danielle Strange, 30, to nominate O'Bryan to participate in the parade that honors women who have fought or are still fighting cancer.
"It was a rough time for all of us," said Strange. "She was so strong. She seemed so strong all of the time."
Nine months after a routine mammogram showed no problems, O'Bryan, a dispatcher at Louisville's LG&E, awoke to a sharp pain in her chest and discovered a lump the size of a peach seed in her breast. Assuming it was likely nothing, O'Bryan went about her business. A few days later, she discovered another lump. This one was under her arm. At this point, O'Bryan decided she needed to return to her doctor where she underwent another mammogram and ultimately a biopsy. She confided in Strange who was a nursing student at Spencerian College. Soon after, O'Bryan was diagnosed with stage 3 of a fast growing form of breast cancer.
"It was September 8, 2010 when I got that phone call," recalls O'Bryan. "I had my meltdown and then said, ‘now we need to do something about it.’"