“I knew what my reaction was to that diagnosis and I didn’t want anyone else to have to feel that,” Mary Mitchell Chicago Sun-Times award-winning columnist and editorial board member explained.
Mitchell’s 23 years at the Sun-Times has included her sharing detailed memories of growing up in poverty with 17 siblings and the struggles of following her career goals while being a single mother of four.
Over the years her journalistic journey has been a personal storyline, but on Apr. 13, 2009 became even more heartfelt when Mitchell shared her breast cancer diagnosis with her readers.
“I needed to know my readers were right there with me,” Mitchell said while smiling downward at her intertwined beige fingernails. “They were my strength.”
On Feb. 10, 2009 Mitchell was diagnosed with breast cancer. At first Mitchell was unable to process the rush of emotions, fear being the strongest. However, Mitchell continued on with her mission of advocacy despite her illness.
“I wrote it because it was early detection,” she said. “You know, I wanted them to see early detection works. I shared that and it brought women together.”
Initially Mitchell worried that people would assume she was sharing to seek pity.
“In order for me to get through the treatment and do everything I had to do, I had to get it out,” she sharply exhaled. “I wrote about it and then I could move on and continue to write about other people. Right then and there it was all about me.”
The greatest feeling of satisfaction for Mitchell is when readers, neighbors and sometime complete strangers approach her and say, “You know Mary I’m getting my mammogram.”
Mitchell places her hand over her heart and sits in silence for several minutes. She peers upwards and says, “It brought a lot of women together and that’s what you want to happen.”
Mary's Top Three Journalism Tips
1. Stay true to your passion 2. Experience as much as you can 3. Enjoy life
Mary's Chicago Advocacy
"You can't have that view that the world is all dainty and clean and proper. They're people who are raising families in the city of Chicago that are doing it against great odds and that's kind of what my family was doing when I was growing up. They're smaller people who have a voice and they deserve to have their voice heard."
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