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(Toledo News Now) -
Kara Ward has been dancing for as long as she can remember. In fact, people who know her believe Kara was born to be in the spotlight.
"I was 3 when I started dancing," Kara explains. "I guess for me, it's really my release. It's the way I work out, the way I have fun."
Kara learned to dance at Miss Becky's Dance Studio in Findlay, so it was really a sweet homecoming for her to become an instructor at the school that taught her so much.
Kara says "Here at the studio we are a tight-knit family. We are friends, we are family, we are sisters. These girls take good care of me!"
She's been especially grateful to have that support this year. Kara had noticed a small lump in her breast around the holidays and went to have the doctors check it out. She'd had a benign fibroid removed 6 months earlier and assumed the news would be the same. She was in Las Vegas on a business trip in February when her doctor called to tell her she had breast cancer at the age of 30. Kara immediately called her mom, who's a two-time breast cancer survivor.
Kara remembers "Even that first day she said 'It's okay. We'll get through it one step at a time.'"
Kara was a teenager when her mom was first diagnosed and although her family does not carry the breast cancer gene, her family history definitely played a part in her decision to have both breasts removed.
"My mom has been diagnosed twice. She's a two time survivor. My aunt, my dad's sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer so I actually have it on both sides." Kara says. "For me, it was a no brainer. Get rid of the risk."
But through her surgery and chemotherapy treatments, Kara was most worried about her dance students. They had lost an instructor to breast cancer just a few years earlier.
Kara tears up when she thinks about it. "When I got sick, people got scared. The first thing I did was pulled my dancers and parents together and said I'm okay, and I'm going to be okay, and I want you guys to be here along the way. And they've been here every step of the way. All of them."
The owner of the school, Meghan Woolley says "Kara brings energy and thoughtfulness and exuberance. She is a wonderful dancer and an even better instructor. And she educates her students about cancer."
Education is important to Kara. She spent hours talking to doctors, and researching her options for treatment and care. She was impressed with the wealth of information available through Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"The very first place I turned was Komen," Kara says. "They have the most comprehensive list of research available."
Kara's family had participated several times in the Columbus Race for the Cure to support her mom and aunt. Since they're from Carey, their team is called the "C-Town Survivors." She couldn't believe when she got the phone call telling her the very first Findlay Race for the Cure will be In Celebration Of Kara Ward.
"To bring it to Findlay is so exciting," Kara says. "It's the perfect place for it, the perfect town for it, the support is there. I think it's going to be very successful and I'm beyond excited to be part of it."
Kara's boss, Andrea Wilcox has been completely impressed and inspired by the way she's handled her diagnosis and treatment. "Kara's never allowed cancer to be an excuse for anything," she says. "She shows up to work every day with a smile on her face, she looks sassy, she IS sassy!"
Woolley agrees Kara is the right person to honor at the Race. "She handles it with power and grace. She's just an amazing person. Never lets anything stop her. There's no better person who deserves it."