LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On Friday, all eyes will be on Churchill Downs and the 144th running of the Kentucky Oaks. But, before the big race takes place, an event near and dear to many hearts takes center stage.
The Survivors Parade is marking its 10th anniversary in 2018. 144 survivors of breast and ovarian cancer will make an emotional, historic walk together on the Churchill Downs track right before the Kentucky Oaks.
Because the parade has been shown locally and nationally over the years, the moment that inspires all of us here in WAVE Country, also connects with families all over the country. Each and every survivor has a story to tell, including Amy Taylor.
"I am a mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law," said Taylor.
The former Louisvillian checked out the horses on the backside of Churchill Downs with her family Wednesday morning, after spending the last 11 years calling Colorado home. It's the beautiful place where she and husband Travis raised their 9-year-old son, Jackson. It's also where an unexpected and painful journey began.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer on December 27, of 2012 and had bilateral mastectomy in February of 2013," said Amy.
She feels lucky that her cancer was found early and had the option for surgery. But, the decision to have surgery wasn't difficult for her.
"I had a young son at home and wanted to feel back to normal as quickly as possible," said Amy.
"You're always going to be emotional about it, and Amy is, she's amazing," Amy's husband Travis remembered.
Travis says his wife always puts on a great game face, but admits, at times, things were tough. The family of three took part in cancer walks and fundraisers to help others and themselves.
"As horrible as that is, you find some of the most beautiful moments going through something like that and talking to other people that have been through it and been through worse," Amy said.
"I'm really, really proud of her and she's been really strong through this," Jackson added.
"Everybody does this different and you find that out when somebody you love is going through it," Travis said of her attitude about cancer. "She just rung its neck, I mean from the start that's how she chose to deal with it."
Recognizing that strength, Amy's mother-in-law Gail Lilly knew Amy would inspire others still fighting if she took part in the Survivor's Parade.
"She was an absolute warrior, always has been and still is," Lilly said.
Amy says she was surprised she was chosen, since she lives in Colorado.
"Shocked, truly shocked," Amy said, "How do you find people to vote for you?"
Jackson, who'll be watching from the sidelines, wants everyone to know his mom is his favorite superhero.
"She just doesn't give up and that's what's really cool," said Jackson.
Amy says she was honored to be selected with 143 others for the survivors parade and can't wait to hear as many of their stories as possible.