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Educator takes lessons out of class

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POSTED: May 31, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Longtime educator Mattie Brown is not someone who gives up. She did not allow cancer to defeat her nor did she allow it to deter her from achieving her dreams.
In 1999, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Savannah, she continued to work and shape young minds. The cancer returned in 2003 and Brown underwent a mastectomy.
“You can go in a corner and kick and scream, or plug away at life. You must understand who is in charge. I kept myself involved and stayed busy. You have to press your way,” she said.
Brown, who was pursuing a doctorate degree, went to class with tubes attached and typed her dissertation in one week while undergoing treatment.
She also hosted the Saturday morning radio teen broadcast, Upfront, on WGML in Hinesville.
Undergoing treatments did not prevent her from teaching part-time at Savannah Technical School and the adult Sunday school class at Pleasant Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Brown advises cancer patients to try to maintain a normal life.
“You must recognize and accept you have cancer, but it does not have to be a death sentence,” she said. “Keeping a positive attitude is 75 percent of the cure. An exercise program is also very important. I walk 15 miles per week, and go to the gym about three times a week.”         
She further cautions women to get second opinions on health-related matters.
“Seek advice from different doctors. Ask questions. If you don’t get the answers and respect, seek someone who will respect you. Although doctors say once a year for a mammogram, I insist on twice a year.  
“I always had mammograms, but not all cancer or lumps show up on mammograms. I discovered my lump. Examine your breasts and know your body. You are part of the team.”
Brown said doctors are educated, but patients are also a main part of the team.
“The body is more valuable than what society would have you to think. A woman’s breast is more than a sexual thing; it is something you should protect. Because of removal, I don’t feel any shame. I am not embarrassed. I am blessed,” she said.
“Being diagnosed with cancer was a humbling experience. Your attitude, gratitude and faith are very important. I was not depressed; I am highly favored,” Brown said. “I have learned to enjoy every day. I appreciate the fact that you have strength you never thought you had.”
A 25-year educator with the Liberty County School System, Brown has worked in a variety of positions.
She currently teaches at Jordye Bacon Elementary School, and has served as curriculum director, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent.
 

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