Speaking from the heart about her decision to serve as KLA president despite her battle with cancer, Barb Downey delivered a powerful message of resilience in her retiring address during the membership breakfast December 6 at the KLA Convention. The Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, U.S. Premium Beef and Kansas Feeds, LLC, sponsored the breakfast.
The Wamego rancher explained nearly five years to the day had passed since she was diagnosed with rectal cancer while her fellow producers were attending the 2014 KLA Convention. She then underwent intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments and several surgeries before receiving the call to serve as a KLA officer in late 2017.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to complete a three-year term,” she said. “But then I thought what if I say no and I let time march on without me? What if I let the opportunity to stand alongside you and serve this organization pass by?”
Downey reminded the audience that time marches on, whether they’re ready for it or not, and the only thing worse than trying and failing was never trying at all. Instead, she encouraged them to harness their fear and use it for good.
“Whether it’s our health, our life, our family, our business situations or our KLA organization, what a shame if we allow the fear of making a mistake or the fear of uncertainty paralyze us,” she said. “Use that fear as a tool to give you power over your decisions.”