Many already viewed Bibiana Salmon, an Ecuadorian who has lived in Doral for about two decades, with admiration when she was diagnosed with breast cancer on 2010.
Judging from her resilience as a homeowner who lost it all to Hurricane Andrew, as an American Cancer Society activist after becoming a widow, and as a fierce mom on a hunger strike for a week to protest cuts at her daughters public school breast cancer had a willful enemy.
Salmons career trajectory led her from working as a clinical psychologist to running an international freight-forwarding business after her husband, Alberto Spencer, died of melanoma in 1998. She closed the business in 2002 to focus on raising their two daughters.
Two weeks after his diagnosis, the cancer had spread to his brain, bones, lungs and stomach. The tumors in his brain caused a respiratory arrest. He was 38, Salmon said. Tabitha was 4 and Camille was going to turn 6. He died before her birthday party and told me not to cancel it. We didnt.
In 2005, Salmon wed retired Navy Capt. Steven Wetzel, who works at the U.S. Southern Command in Doral. A year later, the American Cancer Society recognized her and her daughters for their outreach and lobbying efforts on behalf of the Society.
She never imagined that one day she would be telling her daughters that she too had cancer. It was the toughest time of her life, she said.
When she underwent treatment last year, her mother, a breast cancer survivor, and her father, a lung cancer survivor, were by her side. She remembers being a teen when her mother had surgery to remove her breast. Now it was her turn. She is planning to undergo reconstruction surgery later this year.
The denouement: She is running for a Doral City Council seat in November, and her daughters are studying to become doctors to continue their fight against cancer. Tabitha, 18, is at Yale University and Camille, 20, is at Brown University.