Beth Novak Milliken – In memory of Mary Weber Novak: 2018 Vintner Grant Honoree for Breast Cancer Research

Mary’s husband, Jack, died in November of 1977, when they were both just 44 years of age, leaving her a widow with a large property and five children. She discovered a lump in her breast in 1978 and when she went to see a doctor in Napa, he told her not to worry – she did not have a family history and so he felt she had nothing to worry about. Thankfully, she followed her intuition and went to see a doctor she trusted. He had her undergo surgery immediately. She was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer that was in a few lymph nodes. After the surgery, she underwent chemotherapy for a full year in Napa. She was very sick, yet she persevered, and kept her family together through it all at the Spottswoode Estate.

Mary lived cancer-free for 38 years, until lymphoma was discovered in August of 2016. Though her mind and spirit were strong, her body was unable to handle the onslaught of chemotherapy for the second time. She died, unexpectedly, on September 25, 2016, at age 84.

“Based on her strength, it never once occurred to me that my mother would not make it through her treatment the second time around.”