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Ludlow Woman to Be Honored in Kentucky Oaks Parade for Cancer Survivors

On Friday at Churchill Downs, a Ludlow woman will be honored in the Kentucky Oaks 141 Survivors Parade, a parade for survivors of breast and ovarian cancer. Lesa Rahschulte has overcome two bouts of breast cancer and a bout with ovarian cancer and received over 11,000 votes in the online contest that has allowed her to be in the parade. Rahschulte was the eighth top vote-getter thanks to the overwhelming support of her friends and family.

“I am lucky enough to have a lot of the same friends since first grade. A lot of them have been there since day one. They've followed me and been there for me. The stuff I've been through recently, they've all rallied for me, supported me, raised funds for me, raised awareness for me. I'm very blessed to have good people in my life,” she said about the effort to get her to the Kentucky Derby this weekend.

Rahschulte was 24 when she first discovered that she had breast cancer. She was lucky enough to catch it early when they removed her lump. Then, in 2006, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which she also received treatment for and beat. In October, her breast cancer returned, this time on the other side and she underwent a double mastectomy to remove the cancer. She is still recovering from her last operation but says she is 75 percent healed and is beginning to do her normal activities again.

“I think I only have two more steps in my reconstruction and then I'm done. I'm healing fine. I've been able to go back to dance class and I can drive and do my normal activities as long as my body let's me,” she said.

As a participant in the parade, Rahschulte will receive two tickets to the Derby, lunch and be able to walk the Pink Carpet.

“I've never been to Churchill Downs. I've always wanted to go. I've lived in Kentucky for 17 years and it's always been on my bucket list I guess you could say. When I was nominated, I was excited but I never dreamed that I would get to go or that I would get 100 votes. I ended up getting 11,000 votes which amazed me in itself, but especially because I was nominated late to the contest,” she said.

In addition to the tickets, Rahschulte was also given a Fascinator, a type of hat, by Church Derby Hats and a box of clothes and accessories from Lane Bryant to wear at the event.

“Church Derby Hats donated a Fascinator for me to wear; I got that yesterday. Then today, I got a big package from Lane Bryant with dresses and shoes and accessories and sunglasses, t-shirts and breast cancer awareness stuff, a personal letter from the CEO of Lane Bryant...so I'm very blessed and excited about that, too.”

This will be the seventh consecutive year of the Survivors Parade and will be the 141st year of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor/Photo courtesy of Derby Experiences