Legislators discuss breast cancer and legislation to raise awareness
sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who have both been diagnosed with breast cancer, call for action.
Jasper Colt, USA TODAY
BROCKTON — Brockton resident Veronica Bruce-Butler died of breast cancer at age 48 on Sept. 2, but her courage and strength inspired her brother, 60-year-old James Bruce, to open a cancer resource center in her honor. start in the city.
“The message of her life was, ‘It’s not what you have, it’s what you give,'” Bruce said.
Bruce-Butler was a native of Boston and one of 10 children born to her mother, Louise Bruce. Despite their age difference, James Bruce said, he and his sister were always close. He said he even helped her learn to read.
“She had a great, great spirit,” he said. “Very giving, very generous, very caring, extremely family oriented and grounded.”
Bruce-Butler was married to her husband, Darryl Butler, for 27 years and worked in the travel industry. She had two grown children and a grandchild, and was very involved in her church in Boston.
Throughout her life, Bruce said, Butler-Bruce had a sense of dignity and strength and often conveyed her wisdom through short, poignant statements.
“She said, ‘Don’t let people treat you in any way,'” Bruce said. “In other words, one should have a standard for oneself. One should have a sense of dignity and pride.”
It was this sense of dignity and pride that Bruce-Butler carried with her during her battle with cancer, Bruce said.
She was diagnosed with cancer in the early summer of 2020, but throughout the 15-month process, Bruce said, she never complained.
“The whole trip she joked and never took it as a death sentence. She always saw it as an experience,” he said.
Even on her last night, Bruce said, he remembers the last joke she made while sitting in her chair.
“She said, ‘Darryl, I want you to turn around. I’ve been pointing my ass at the wall all day,” he said, giggling at the memory.
Bruce said Bruce-Butler’s faith in God helped her come to terms with what was happening, and when people asked her how she was doing, she simply said, “God has me.”
Bruce even said that even though her health was declining, she thought about others and bought gifts for her friends and family’s children on Amazon from her chair.
When Bruce-Butler’s mother turned 85 this year and Bruce asked his sister to help with the birthday dinner, she even managed a guest list of 70 people, coordinated the menu, made handmade party favors and ordered decorations.
In addition, she gathered the strength she still had to attend dinner in a wheelchair.
“She was so dedicated, so caring and compassionate with other people,” Bruce said.
But it’s another message Butler-Bruce left for her family before her death that inspired Bruce to take action.
“Two weeks or so before she died, she said to my mother, ‘I look back on my life and I only have one regret — that I didn’t take better care of myself,'” Bruce said.
Bruce explained that his sister had ignored the signs of illness for a long time before she was diagnosed with cancer. He said she had had pain in her chest when she moved and could no longer tolerate certain foods.
By the time Bruce-Butler went to a doctor, he said, the cancer had already spread from her breast to her spine and brain.
Now Bruce honors his sister’s memory by helping those battling cancer and their caregivers get the information and support their needs.
After his sister’s death, Bruce founded the Team Veronica Cancer Resource Center – a non-profit organization that provides information, lessons and other services to people battling cancer and their caregivers.
“The center should provide hope, direction, support and compassion to people directly and indirectly affected by cancer,” he said.
Bruce began the nonprofit’s work by hosting a breast cancer awareness walk at DW Field on October 24. He continues this work by hosting a banquet on December 23 to honor cancer survivors and give them the opportunity to share their experiences.
Eventually, Bruce said, he wants to find a building to house the information center, but he’s still looking for a location. He said he envisions the center with a space for quiet medication and thoughts, an arts and crafts space, a meeting space to hold classes and gatherings, and even a cafe and gift shop with local artists.
Bruce hopes to find a suitable site for the center in the spring, but until then, he will continue to honor his sister through other nonprofit work.
“What she left behind was a spirit of love, peace and compassion for others,” he said.
Susannah Sudborough, author of Enterprise employees, can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @k_sudborough. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.