McCrabb: Woman who lost mother keeps ‘legacy alive’ through breast cancer ministry

Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Her lasting memory of her mother was a message delivered by her father.

Kimberly Silas was 5 at the time, and had two older brothers, Myles and Mark.

Their father, John Silas, sat his three children down on the living room couch and slowly and somberly said: “Your mother is never coming home again.”

On that Sunday, March 6, 1966, Willie Emma Silas died at Middletown Hospital after battling breast cancer. She was 43. Too young.

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Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

After her mother’s death, Kimberly Silas said one of her cousins volunteered to take custody of her, but her father had made a death-bed promise to his wife to keep the family together. To support the family, Silas worked two jobs: Armco Steel and at a Middletown drug store.

“His faith was stronger than his circumstance,” Silas said of her father who died in 2009. “He stood in the gap.”

It’s been 56 years since Willie Emma Silas died, and her daughter has dedicated the last several years keeping her mother’s “legacy alive.”

Her church, United Missionary Baptist in Middletown, hosts a Go Pink Sunday event every October to honor cancer survivors. Silas chaired the event in 2018, and the following year, the Rev. Greg Tyus, pastor at United Missionary, changed the name to Mrs. Willie Emma Silas Go Pink Sunday.

Tyus said it’s refreshing when a member of the congregation takes the mission outside the walls of the church and into the community.

“She’s doing a good job of that,” Tyus said.

Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Silas invites cancer survivors to church and they’re honored along with those who have lost their lives to cancer. Those in attendance are presented with gift packages and during COVID-19, Silas delivered the packages to the homes of survivors throughout the region.

“That’s my ministry,” Silas said. “Keeping her legacy alive.”

Then the phone went silent.

“If I start crying,” she said, “please forgive me.”

Then she continued: “You don’t have to deliver your ministry from the pulpit. This is my passion. Helping other women and sharing my ministry.”

Last weekend, Silas, 61, secured the Premier Health’s mobile mammography coach that is equipped with traditional 2D and 3D mammography to detect breast and had it parked at Old South Park, just down the street from where she lived on Lincoln Street.

That day 13 women received mammograms and Silas has reserved the coach for March 4, 2023.

She may never know the impact of making the mammograms unit available. She may never hear that one of the women tested discovered they have breast cancer.

By providing an opportunity for women to be tested for breast cancer, her mammogram ministry could save a life.

“I would hurt as far as hearing about a diagnosis, but I’d be elated if it was detected early,” she said. “That’s the key. If someone is saved, I give God all the glory.”

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Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

caption arrowCaption
Kimberly Silas, 61, of Middletown, has started a breast cancer ministry to keep her mother's "legacy alive." Her mother, Willie Emma Silas, died in 1966. Last weekend, Silas reserved the Premier Health's mobile mammography coach and 13 women were examined. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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