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Ginny Clements reflects on life after her huge contribution to the University of Arizona

"I can’t thank the lord enough for blessing me to do something for others"
Posted at 6:26 PM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 21:26:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ginny Clements was just 15 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Clements says the doctors told her they had to get it out, adding, “The next morning I woke up and I didn’t have a breast, I didn’t have lymph nodes, and I didn’t have a muscle on the breast.”

Clements says, “It was very very traumatic.”

That was back in 1956. She continued high school like any other teenage girl. We didn’t talk about it. Nobody in the school ever asked me a thing at all.” But it’s something she always thought about.

“You wonder how your life is going to be and if any man will ever like you or love you. Will you ever get married? That was certainly in my mind,” says Clements.

But those thoughts quickly disappeared when she met her first husband, Bill Clements. “He asked me to get married 2 and a half weeks after we met. We were married 3 months later,” says Clements.

The couple moved to Tucson in 1974, where they had two beautiful children. At the time, they ran Golden Eagle Distributors, the local distributor of Anheuser-Busch products.

In 1995, Bill passed away after losing his battle with lung cancer. At that time, Ginny had still never spoken about her own cancer journey.

But then a book changed her life. Clements says, “promise me is a story about Susan G. Komen. I decided in 2006 that I would start talking about breast cancer.”

That’s when she started the Ginny L. Clements Breast Cancer Fund. Every year she donated $50 to breast cancer researchers.

$50 marked 50 years since her cancer diagnosis.

Ginny went on to sell Golden Eagle Distributors, leaving her with some extra money. “I decided I wanted to make a difference.”

Three years ago, the University of Arizona received an 8.5 million dollar gift to establish the Ginny L. Clements Breast Cancer Research Institute.

Clements says, “I want to see that I am helping men and women who have breast cancer.”

She adds, “It doesn’t matter if you give a dollar, it doesn’t matter if you give 25 dollars. Give something to something that you’re really passionate about.”

Ginny says, “I’ve been blessed. I can’t thank the lord enough for blessing me to do something for others.”

It’s been 67 years since her cancer diagnosis and Ginny says she is doing just fine.

She is happily married and watching her breast cancer institute grow.

“I hope both of my children are very proud of me,” says Clements.

Heidi Alagha is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Heidi spent 5 years as the morning anchor in Waco where she was named the best anchor team by the Texas Associated Press. Share your story ideas and important issues with Heidi by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.