Beating the Odds: Reach to Recovery

October 18, 2012 3:01:24 PM PDT
Mary Spotswood is a woman who loves to hug. She wears her cancer survivorship as a badge of honor, inviting strangers to share their stories of struggle.

"Because most people, when they see that pin, especially in the supermarket, (say), 'Oh, you're a cancer survivor.' I say, 'Yes.' (They answer) 'So am I.'"

Spotswood had her first battle with breast cancer 20 years ago. When the cancer came back a decade later, she had a mastectomy and then started a breast cancer support group.

"Because at the time when I was diagnosed, there wasn't too many African American support groups out there," Mary told us.

In 2004, Mary joined the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program which pairs survivors with women just diagnosed with the disease.

"Friends and family is wonderful but no one knows what it's like unless you've been through that journey yourself," Mary tells Action News.

She chats with the women she's partnered with by phone and says she's offered words of hope and encouragement to more women then she can count.

"If you take the first three letters of the word cancer, 'C-A-N,' I can beat this horrible disease."

Mary's older sister and grandmother both died of breast cancer; her mother from ovarian cancer. So now, she's a full-time advocate volunteering with Reach to Recovery and 5 other breast cancer support groups. Her goal: To educate women never stricken about the importance of early detection and to help those already diagnosed on their road to recovery.

"If I can get one woman to go through her journey a little easier, then I'm happy."

If you'd like to join the battle against breast cancer, The American Cancer Society's annual Making Strides Run and Walk is this Saturday at 8 a.m., starting at Memorial hall in Fairmount Park. I hope to see you there.


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