In Memoriam: Sandra Spivey, Steadfast MBC Mentor & Advocate
The MBC Alliance celebrates the life and work of member Sandra Spivey, who passed away in March 2021 at age 68. Sandi, who lived with metastatic breast cancer for more than two decades, was a trusted friend, gifted and passionate advocate, and mentor to all living with MBC.
As Chair of the Alliance’s Patient/Advocate Advisory Group, Sandi worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people living with MBC. Her years of experience on nonprofit boards and as a human resources executive were invaluable in effectively collaborating with a widespread team to get things done, and to spread the message of how advocates can make a real impact by influencing research.
After being diagnosed with MBC in 1995, Sandi was motivated to do something to stop breast cancer so her 13-year-old daughter and the next generation of young women wouldn’t have to worry about dying from it.
This interest led Sandi to attend numerous National Breast Cancer Coalition conferences and to participate in Project LEAD, which prepares advocates to work side-by-side with scientists on peer review panels to review grant applications for research funding. Sandi went on to participate in more than 20 scientific funding reviews for breast cancer research for Susan G. Komen®, the Department of Defense, and METAvivor; and to serve on the Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee.
As an advocate, Sandi was determined to deliver the message that Stage 4 needs more attention and funding. She strove to keep patient voices front and center, reminding the scientific community that its work urgently affects the lives of thousands, and that their ultimate goal was to end breast cancer. Memorably, she once created a 9-foot scroll documenting her cancer history, complete with 20 different types of treatment including “more than 200 bags of chemo.”
Despite her crowded advocacy and treatment calendar, she made time to embrace life fully, from road trips with her husband and sisters to volunteering at a cat rescue and following major league baseball.
Sandi also made a direct difference in the lives of others diagnosed with MBC, serving on volunteer helplines for the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) and Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), and as a peer counselor for After Breast Cancer Diagnosis and LBBC. Her mentorship gave hope and guidance to many people who were newly diagnosed and reaching out for help.
Sandi’s intelligence, radiant smile and passion for improving the lives of others with MBC will be deeply missed. We are forever grateful for her steadfast advocacy and commitment to asking the hard questions in her quest to make real progress against metastatic breast cancer.