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Dear Tom,

In 2005, my mother decided to quit her job to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing at Hampton University.  Once she finished, she was offered a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical genetics at the University of Iowa.  In 2009, she returned home to Charleston to conduct research on the “Gullahs” of South Carolina.

2014 was a big year for my mom – since she is involved in volunteer work on diabetes and genetics, she had the pleasure of meeting J. Anthony Brown at the American Diabetes Association Disparity Conference last year.

As much as she enjoyed meeting J, that encounter was eclipsed when she met president Obama when he honored her as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her work in Diabetes and the Gullah population.  My mom made him laugh when she told him “I got your back” as she stood behind him in the group photo – she’s the one in the purple scarf.

Out of the 103 recipients – six of them were African American and my mom was the only person from South Carolina and one of the only 2 nurses honored.

But late last year, my mom was suffering from ongoing cramps and pain in her belly…turned out it was ovarian cancer, the hardest form of cancer to detect.  As with all cancers, early detection is key and she is beating cancer – her last chemotherapy treatment is on July 22nd!

We would love to plan a celebration and surprise her with trip somewhere she has never been.  Can you help us take her away somewhere nice?

THURSDAY MORNING MOM: Ida Spruill  was originally published on