Betty Ford (1918-2011) was an American first lady (1974-77) and the wife of Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States. Ford realized the power of her position as first lady early on, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her husband took office. Her public disclosure of a previously taboo subject encouraged thousands of women to seek medical treatment. Ford continued to speak openly on a number of social and political issues, for which she received both criticism and praise. In 1982, after overcoming her own dependence on alcohol and prescription pills, she founded the Betty Ford Center, a substance abuse and addiction treatment facility.