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DuBois Discloses Breast Cancer Struggle

Dranesville District supervisor vows not to let cancer impact performance.

Dranesville District supervisor Joan DuBois surprised her peers at the July 26 Board of Supervisors meeting by announcing she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is seeking treatment. DuBois made it clear she is not stepping down and has made arrangements with her staff to ensure that the needs of her constituents are met while she undergoes treatment.

DuBois has endured an especially trying year in this, her first, as district supervisor. Her mother died recently while visiting DuBois at her McLean home. Before that, DuBois overcame pneumonia. Adding levity to her announcement, DuBois said, “Things come in threes,” and “I’m in great shape otherwise, but I do glow in the dark.”

The 63-year-old DuBois was diagnosed in April this year. DuBois said “a full recovery is expected” and that the cancer was discovered at an early stage.

According to Linda Lammerson, DuBois’ legislative aide, a treatment schedule has been developed by DuBois’ doctors that will minimize the disruption of her duties as district supervisor. DuBois issued a statement reading, “I have an experienced and capable staff who will continue to provide the day to day constituent services that the citizens of Dranesville have come to expect, and I will be in daily contact with them about your concerns, whether I am in the office or working out of my home. I thank you in advance for your understanding and patience during this difficult time and assure you that I remain committed to serving the citizens of the Dranesville District.”

Lammerson said, “She is going to be out of pocket a bit, but she does plan on being in constant contact with us.”

DUBOIS WILL TAKE PART in the Aug. 2 Board of Supervisors meeting. “The Board is going to recess in early August, so that’s good. She is then going on a trip to Alaska with her son that has been scheduled. She will begin treatment in September,” said Lammerson.

DuBois said she made the disclosure about her health to counteract rumors that had begun to surface. “People are starting, in my district, to ask questions,” said DuBois.

She has already had surgery, followed by a complete round of testing to decide the course of action doctors will take to eradicate the cancer.

Screening programs for breast cancer have become more common and more sophisticated, leading to more cases being detected in the earlier stages of disease, when they are more easily treated and success rates are higher.

Lammerson said the other reason DuBois made the announcement was to encourage women to get mammograms. “This was found through a routine mammogram. She’s encouraging all women not to put this off,” said Lammerson. “She’s a very private person. It took a lot for her to do this.”

DuBois said, “Make the appointment today. It can make a difference.”

Braddock District supervisor Sharon Bulova told DuBois, “Thank you for sharing that personal information and for giving that advice to other women."

Mount Vernon District supervisor Gerry Hyland said, “It’s certainly not easy to go on as normal when things abnormal go on in your life.”

DuBois said she will be out on the golf course next spring.