Erdine Jones defeated breast cancer in the 1960s and later, as a nurse, shared her story and strength with others battling the disease. -- Tim Reeves

Jones shares strength and story

Published 11:05pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles spotlighting area cancer survivors and families affected by the disease. These stories are an effort to raise awareness and promote the annual Relay for Life-Dallas County.

In the 1930s the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had “fireside chats” and the Stock Market crashed, leading to the Great Depression.

In the summer of 1933 in Selma, educators Cornelia and Rev. M.J. Glover welcomed a baby girl named Erdine into the world. Erdine, now Erdine Jones, was the youngest of three girls, and like many families living during the Depression, she experienced life on food stamps and rationing of food.

“We saw some hard times but we remained close,” Jones said. “But, overall, I had a happy childhood.”

As a youth, Jones loved to ride her bike; it was something about the wind hitting her face and the freedom that was relaxing.

“I’ve always done it for as long as I can remember,” Jones said. “I still ride from time-to-time.”

Jones attended college in Selma and moved to New Jersey. She married and lived in New Jersey for 27 years.

In 1960, during a time of political unrest and racial tension in the South, Jones made a profound life-changing discovery.

“I had lumps in my breast and saw secretion and I immediately saw the doctor,” Jones said. “At that time, people didn’t really talk about cancer; it was just something you didn’t do. I didn’t have radiation or chemotherapy but I had to have one breast removed.”

Six years later, doctors had to remove Jones’ other breast to prevent more malignant cancer from spreading. Jones was devastated.

“It was very upsetting to me,” said the soft-spoken woman, now a widow. “There was no reconstructive surgery available during that time, so I was very self-conscious and stressed. But, I eventually accepted things.”

Jones clung to the support of her family and friends to pull her through.

“They kept my spirits up,” she said. “They talked to me and supported me.”

During the 80s and 90s, Jones became a medical surgical nurse for Vaughan Regional Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital, helping other cancer patients and telling her story.

“It was exciting to see someone tolerate treatment and come through,” Jones said. “I was happy to see them do well after surgery and be able to go home and do fine.”

Jones, who is the only surviving member in her family, has been in remission for more than 50 years. She believes God has her alive for a reason.

“I have changed as a person and I value life more,” Jones said. “Both my parents and sisters are gone and sometimes I wonder why I’m still here. I appreciate being alive because I know I’m blessed.”

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