GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Betty Ford's openness about her breast cancer has made a huge impact on women's health care, especially here in Grand Rapids, which has the breast services center that bears her name.
In the 1970s, when she was diagnosed the word cancer was called the "Big C" and the word "breast" wasn't usually said in public. But Betty Ford changed that.
Ford was also a supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which helped our Grand Rapids affiliate when it formed in the late 1990s.
"Betty actually was our first local honorary chairperson of our first couple of races," says local Komen Race founder Peggy Helsel. "'Race for the Cure' in Grand Rapids actually started and ended at the museum at the Ford Museum, so I think the fact that she was able to lend credibility to what we were doing, what Komen was doing."
Helsel, who conquered breast cancer herself, says Betty Ford's strength and honesty is still helping women today.