ATLANTA, GA — Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal has been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent successful surgery to remove a tumor, the governor's office announced Monday.
The wife of Gov. Nathan Deal, she will begin chemotherapy treatments in the coming weeks "to ensure complete remission," according to a statement from the governor's office.
"During an annual mammogram, I was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer," Sandra Deal said in the written release. "Since I caught it in its early stages, I am confident that the chemotherapy will yield successful results."
In the statement, Mrs. Deal, who will turn 76 on Feb. 1, urged all women to be proactive about their health and see a medical professional for a mammogram annually.
"Nathan and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this time, and I look forward to continuing to read to students across the state," she said.
Born Emilie Sandra Dunagan in Gainesville, Ga., Deal is a former public school language arts teacher who has made education and literacy top priorities since assuming the role of First Lady in 2011. She has read to students in all of Georgia's 159 counties, is co-chair of the Georgia Literacy Commission and plays an active role in the "Read Across Georgia Month" initiative.
She also has partnered with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, an initiative aimed at having all students reading on grade level by the end of third grade. She is chairwoman of the Georgia Children's Cabinet and, in 2015, her book "Memories of the Mansion: The Story of Georgia's Governor's Mansion" was published
For her efforts, she received the Georgia Association of Broadcasters "Georgian of the Year" award in 2016.
She married Nathan Deal in 1966 and the couple have four children — Jason, Mary Emily, Carrie, and Katie — and six grandchildren.
Information about mammograms and breast cancer prevention is available on the Georgia Department of Public Health website.
Photo courtesy State of Georgia