On November 17th my mother, Sulie Spencer, will celebrate her 40th anniversary of beating breast cancer in 1976. It also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary date. Now that my father is no longer with us, it makes this day and anniversary all the more memorable and important to acknowledge.
In 1976 my mother was diagnosed with malignant like tendencies in her right breast. The doctors recommended that she have a full mastectomy. So at the age of 38, my mom tackled a disease that people didn’t say publicly nor was there much research or support for how to handle life after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Although several of my mother’s sisters and brothers and her employer did not win their battle with cancer, my mom did. She not only beat this monster once but twice. In August, 2002, she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the left side. Yes, 26 years later, it reared its ugly head again. This time her treatment was radiation and she reigns victorious 14-years over that fight with breast cancer.
In the ‘70s there weren’t many support groups nor were there stores where an African-American woman could get a brown prosthesis. So for years, my mom had an African-American chocolate colored boob and a Caucasian-flesh colored boob. She never let the disease or its impact alter her purpose or passion for living. Because of her determination, faith and strength, my mom has seen, done and experienced the world’s beauty and ensures she leaves a little bit of her inspiration with those she meets along the way.
It is my hope that you would join our family in acknowledging and celebrating this 40th year milestone with a special note and potentially a shout out on your show. I am sure this will be the catalyst that will propel her into the next 20 years of life, as she awaits the results from her chemo treatment in her third bout with cancer, this time lymphoma and mesothelioma.
My mother is a walking miracle and a great example of what faith in God, prayer and early detection can do. In each instance, the cancer has been found early and with a great medical team, she has been victorious.
Here’s a current photo of my mom and me at a 2016 award event.
Julie Spencer Washington