Pink Ribbon Blog 2023


Pink Ribbon Series with Aubrey O'Quin
 •    7 MIN


Aubrey O'Quin in Durango's Crush Pink Ribbon Boots, DRD0438

Pink Is For Fighters

Aubrey O'Quin shares her story of overcoming breast cancer at age 37 with help from the Western Industry.

Aubrey O'Quin wears many hats, mom of three, wife, and Executive Director for Western Sports Foundation (WSF).

In 2021, she found herself under the brim of one hat she never dreamed she'd wear. "I was breastfeeding and felt a lump. I thought, 'it's just a blocked milk duct.' I did all the things that we do to get rid of blocked milk ducts, but it didn't go away."

The following week, at age 37, she had been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Now, Aubrey faced not only balancing a demanding career while parenting her 5-month-old, 3-year-old, and 5-year-old children, but also a life-threatening disease.

"I remember messaging my family," Aubrey recalls. "It was a text message, not a phone call. For me, saying the word cancer out loud, was like speaking Japanese. It made it real, and still to this day, to say I'm a breast cancer survivor just doesn't seem real."

"still to this day, to say I'm a breast cancer survivor just doesn't seem real."

As Aubrey's medical team formulated a plan and took action, Aubrey began dealing with side effects of the cancer ravaging her body. The first heartbreaking hurdle? Being forced to stop breastfeeding her 5-month-old son.

"I remember the last time I ever breastfed my son," she says, through tears. "When you know it's your last child, those last moments are so much more significant. To have that taken away was really hard."

Just days later, Aubrey began losing her hair. With her husband's help, she shaved her locks. "That was the first time I felt I looked like a cancer patient," she shares. "I couldn't hide it after that."

In the following months, Aubrey underwent 16 infusions, a bilateral mastectomy, and chemotherapy. Throughout her treatment, she continued her work with WSF and tried to stay as involved in her family's life as her body allowed.

"I couldn't let my kids down," Aubrey states. "I couldn't let the rodeo athletes that we serve down. It gave me a purpose outside of cancer, but to work, be a mom, and also try to be a wife, and all those other things wasn't easy."


Aubrey O'Quin in Durango's Crush Pink Ribbon Boots, DRD0438

Aubrey credits the army of family, friends, and even strangers that rallied around her for keeping her strong throughout her battle with breast cancer.

"I remember my sister starting a page for updates on my journey," she recalls. "The outpouring of love from the Western industry was just crazy."

Aubrey had formed bonds with many rodeo athletes and their families after 8 years at WSF, calling them her "brothers and sisters." Several of those pseudo siblings started fundraisers and encouraged others to donate what they could to help Aubrey. Throughout treatment, Aubrey received monetary donations, snacks, meals, and an outpouring of love from people she knew and even some she had never met.

"You never really know the impact you have on somebody's life until you're in a situation like this," Aubrey reveals. "I'm so grateful. There aren't words, really. I don't feel like I deserved it. I feel so appreciative that people I've never met or just met at random at an event wanted to help in any way they could. I could never say 'thank you' enough."

Now, Aubrey is giving back by supporting other women fighting similar battles. Since she rang the bell signifying the end of her treatment journey, she's encouraged and helped countless women - both friends and strangers - who are facing breast cancer.

"I've had friends that have now found their own cancer and got it treated. I've been able to be there for other women that are going through their own journey."

As she reflects on her battle with breast cancer, Aubrey remains thankful for her care team and everyone else who enabled her to overcome this devastating disease.

"It was the hardest year and a half of my life," Aubrey recalls. "I missed family vacations. I missed being present for my kids. I missed breastfeeding. I missed being able to have the energy to snuggle my kids at night. But because I had to miss all of that for that year and a half, I'm here now. I get to be here for my kids for the long term."

That life-altering experience has made Aubrey even more thankful for groups pursuing breast cancer research and the organizations that support them.


Durango® Lady Rebel™ Pink Ribbon Boot, RD3557


Durango® Crush™ Pink Ribbon Boot, DRD0438

"Having organizations like Durango Boots that support breast cancer research is so significant," she shares. "Every single dollar does matter. So, hopefully, no woman ever has to go through this again. No 37-year-old mom with a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 5-month-old ever has to hear the words, 'you have breast cancer.'"

With every purchase of a boot from Durango's Pink Ribbon collection, a percentage of proceeds goes to breast cancer research. To date, Durango has donated over a quarter million dollars to breast cancer research.

"How great is it that you have something as beautiful as these boots to be able to show that you stand in solidarity with all of us that have been affected by breast cancer," Aubrey says of the Pink Ribbon collection.

But for breast cancer warriors like Aubrey, the Pink Ribbon collection signifies more than a fashion piece - it's a path to a brighter future for women.

About the Stefanie Spielman Fund

In 1998, Stefanie Spielman was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 and lost her battle with the disease in 2009. Stefanie and her husband Chris Spielman, an All-Star linebacker from Massillon, Ohio and 11-year NFL player, became advocates for the fight against breast cancer, founding the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research in 1998. The fund has raised more than $22 million to support research at the OSUCCC ‐ James. To learn more about the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, visit www.spielmanfund.com.

About the OSUCCC ‐ James

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center ‐ Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only a few centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. As the cancer program's 356-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. At 21 floors with more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. For more information, please visit cancer.osu.edu.

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