By LeAnne Taylor, The News On 6
DEWEY, OK -- Survivors of breast cancer are always looking to the future and hitting those important milestones -- 5 years, 10 years and beyond.
The News On 6 found one Oklahoma woman, Bernice Spalding, who is nearing the 50-year mark and she just celebrated her 100th birthday this week.
About 160 of Bernice's family and friends gathered in Dewey to celebrate her birthday. Bernice has also reached another milestone. She's a 49-year breast cancer survivor.
"She had surgery October 31st. Halloween, which is a day... I guess it's why we remember it. It was 1960," said Phyllis Diaz, Bernice's daughter.
Diagnosed at the age of 51, Bernice had three teenage boys at home. Back then, things were very different.
"She was in the hospital for three weeks and then she came home and we were fortunate enough to have a cousin who was a nurse and she came and changed bandages and did the medical things for us," said Diaz.
Since that time, Bernice was always concerned about it recurring.
"I don' think we realized at the time how serious it was and all, but now that we look back on it, it was a miracle. It was a miracle and every time she would have a pain she'd think, ‘I don't want to go to the doctor' because she was afraid they'd find it again, but it never came back," said Phyllis Diaz, Bernice's daughter.
Even at her age, Bernice stays active. Earlier this year she took part in Dewey's Relay for Life to raise money in the fight against cancer. Her family says they're amazed at her stamina and wit.
"You've got to stop breaking your bones," Diaz said to her mother, Bernice.
"I've got to have something to look forward to," Bernice responded.
Diaz says she, her sister and cousins are aware that cancer runs in the family and some have had to deal with it, but they know we've come a long way in treating it.
"I think it's impressive what the family has done and the survival and what cancer... how far they've progressed with it, but there's a lot more to be done," said Phyllis Diaz, Bernice's daughter.
Bernice recently had surgery on her back and doctors say she is one tough woman.
Phyllis Diaz and her family are hoping to get involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The organization is helping to fight breast cancer and help more women like Bernice.
The Tulsa race is September 19th at the CityPlex towers in south Tulsa and registration has begun.
For more information, visit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure web site. You can form a team and get registered. You can even join LeAnne's team.