Kent City Councilmember Marli Larimer, left, receives a Breast Cancer Awareness Month proclamation from Mayor Dana Ralph at the Oct. 3 council meeting. Both women are breast cancer survivors. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

Kent City Councilmember Marli Larimer, left, receives a Breast Cancer Awareness Month proclamation from Mayor Dana Ralph at the Oct. 3 council meeting. Both women are breast cancer survivors. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

Kent mayor welcomes Larimer to a club nobody wants to belong to

But ‘the love and support is mighty and fierce’ in breast cancer survivors’ group, Mayor Ralph says

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph welcomed City Councilmember Marli Larimer to a club she didn’t want to belong to, but one that supports those going through the same experience.

“This past year Councilmember Larimer joined a club, one I don’t wish on anybody, but one that is full of very, very strong women and men that are survivors of breast cancer,” Ralph said at the Oct. 3 City Council meeting just prior to proclaiming October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Kent. “This is a group of people that the love and support is mighty and fierce.”

Ralph joined the club when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, the same day she had decided to run for mayor. Ralph presented the proclamation to Larimer at the meeting.

“This is in honor of successfully completing treatment and joining this club that you never wanted to join,” Ralph said. “This is in honor of her battle and her victory.”

Larimer was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in March. She finished treatments in August. In Stage 1, cancer is evident, but it is contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. The breast cancer has been detected in the early stages and can be very effectively treated.

“This proclamation is important to me,” Larimer said at the council meeting. “When I was first diagnosed, you don’t have all the answers and you feel alone. I had the mayor and another woman to turn to for support, but it’s a very scary time.”

Larimer said when she opened up about her experience, she found out 12 other women she knew had survived breast cancer.

“Until we eliminate breast cancer, those diagnosed with it should not have fear,” said Larimer, a 1992 graduate of Kentwood High School, in her sixth year on council. “It’s very survivable and a lot of women have gone through it.”

An estimated 298,000 women and 2,800 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to statistics in the proclamation. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society.

“In Kent, we encourage residents to take proactive measures when it comes to cancer screening and support the spread of lifesaving cancer knowledge and resources,” Ralph said while reading the proclamation.

At the council meeting, Ralph said her mother persuaded her to get a mammogram.

“The only reason I knew I had breast cancer is my mom forced me to have a mammogram,” Ralph said. “She threatened going to the doctor with me. I was in my 40s, who wants their mom to take them to the doctor?”

Ralph said her first mammogram found that she had cancer. Ralph then went through chemotherapy radiation and surgery for treatment.

Following the presentation of the proclamation to Larimer, Ralph had one final comment as she and Larimer fought back tears.

“Be like my mom, if you love somebody so much, you tell them to go get a mammogram,” Ralph said.

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