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Forth Worth single mom is part of the Ford "Models of Courage" program

Fort Worth single mom, Karen Martinez was selected as one of 20 Ford Models of Courage
Fort Worth single mom, Karen Martinez was selected as one of 20 Ford Models of Courage
Ford Motor Company

If you speak to Karen Martinez of Fort Worth you can hear a strong, resilient spirit in the midst of surviving a horrible disease such as breast cancer. Ford Motor Company and its Warriors in Pink campaign kick off their 20th anniversary of supporting the fight against breast cancer by encouraging women to drive more conversations on breast health. In honor of its 20 years in the fight, Ford continues its commitment to the Models of Courage program highlighting 20 individuals, each sharing their inspiring experiences with breast cancer. Karen Martinez is one of those women and she is an avid supporter and advocate about women regularly performng self exams and women getting mammograms. Karen details a little about how she found out she had breast cancer and how she found the support and drive to beat it. For Warriors in Pink conducted a national survey that showed important breast health conversations are not happening enough - particularly between mothers and daughters.

Karen herself has an 18 year old daughter and is involved in many survivor events at TCU and also volunteered at the 16th annual Hispanic Wellness Fair. Coming from a family history where nobody had breast cancer, Karen never worried about breast cancer.

"I ate healthy and I was on a health kick. I dropped 50 pounds." said Martinez. One day in 2008 she had a pain her armpit and a lump. Then there was a second lump on her breast. Within two weeks she was diagnosed and in 3 weeks Karen Martinez was having aggressive surgery. At the time her daughter was about to turn 14 and her daughter had a really difficult time in dealing with her mother's cancer. Martinez said, "She was very angry and yet we were so close." Martinez herself is a single mom and her daughter's father walked out when Martinez was pregnant."She (her daughter) wouldn't wear pink. But now she is a breast cancer advocate." Martinez was born in Costa Rica but lived in California and has been in Texas for about ten years.

Martinez offers these tips on talking to your daughter about self exams. She says that since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month that is a great opening and springboard for talking about the disease and getting examined. This is also a great way to assess whether you need a mammogram. Have conversations with your daughters and get involved with events and walks.

One of the key things that got Martinez through the chemotherapy and fighting the disease was not just her positive attitude but having a support network. Her mother was instrumental in being by her side and Martinez, as a single mom, had to learn quickly that you can't be superwoman all the time. When it came down to the surgery Martinez remembers friends and family fighting to sit with her during 6 hour chemo sessions. Martinez believes she is a better person because of what she went through. As a single mom, she had to learn that it ok if someone wants to help you.

Today Martinez not only supports breast cancer awareness events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area but she is also a willing mentor to others. She gets phone calls from others that are going through where she's already been. She respects their privacy and is always ready to talk.

Ford Motor Company's Warriors in Pink

“Through Warriors in Pink, Ford continues to be a unifying force in driving awareness for breast cancer,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company. “This year is especially meaningful to us as we mark our 20th anniversary and honor the strength and courage of all the survivors who have shared their stories with us throughout their journey.”

To examine the state of conversation around breast health, Ford Warriors in Pink commissioned the Drive the Conversation survey among U.S. adult women, with specific emphasis on mothers and daughters. In this particular survey, both mothers and daughters admit they are more likely to talk about breast health if the other initiates the conversation, and 45 percent of daughters wish they were comfortable enough to talk to their mother about breast health. Only 41 percent of mothers report discussing breast cancer with their daughters, and 52 percent of daughters admit that it does not occur to them to talk to their mother about breast health.

One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer every year, yet about one third of women still don’t think about breast health until it is mentioned by their doctor.

“As a mother myself and the youngest of three siblings, I felt that this was a great opportunity to put more light on the important health conversations we should be having more of with our loved ones,” said Tracy Magee, Ford brand experiential marketing manager. “And creating a comfortable space to have these conversations is critical.”

According to the survey, the majority of women (68 percent) believe that a vehicle provides a private and safe setting for important health conversations, with 38 percent admitting they sometimes wait to have important conversations until they are in the car.

Ford's Models of Courage program

In honor of its 20 years in the fight, Ford continues its commitment to the Models of Courage program highlighting 20 individuals, each sharing their inspiring experiences with breast cancer.

“We are deeply honored to welcome these 20 courageous and inspiring women and men to the Models of Courage program and are proud to have them represent Warriors in Pink – each with their own heartfelt story to share. They are true embodiments of our warrior spirit,” says Magee.

The Models of Courage will share their stories, inspiring hope and helping others face their battles throughout the year at national and community events, and in Warriors in Pink communications.

Wear the warrior spirit

Ford also has a 2014 Warriors in Pink line of apparel and accessories dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. The Warriors in Pink apparel collection features bold symbols that signify hope and strength, and that embody the warrior spirit of taking charge, harnessing power and standing together. This year, the collection will feature new items including a hoodie T-shirt, a lightweight jacket and a men’s polo and necktie, as well as best-selling accessories such as the annual women’s scarf and an updated versatile tote.

One hundred percent of the net proceeds from all warrior wear and gear sales is dedicated to the fight against breast cancer benefiting Warriors in Pink’s four charity partners: The Pink Fund, Susan G. Komen, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition.

The 2014 Warriors in Pink collection will be available at fordcares.com.