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Patti Rutland Simpson , Dothan

"Professionally, the best decision I ever made wasn’t really made by me. I won the most prestigious choreography event in the world in 2005.  I won the Leo's Gold Shoe in Chicago at The Jazz Dance World Congress. When I won, I was immediately contacted to do a show in New York. I was doing a photoshoot for Dance Magazine for an article about me winning and my future plans when the phone call came and I found out I had cancer. Everything came to a screeching halt. I. Had. Breast. Cancer."


It was sitting back for a year while going through the surgery and recovery that Patti realized that she could go to New York, or LA, or do all kinds of things, but it would not make a difference where she lived or where she came from. She decided to focus her efforts to found a professional dance company, grow an outreach program for underserved children and open an income-based dance studio. She does not think any of that would’ve happened if she had not had cancer. Patti feels it was a divine intervention calling her to re-examine her life.  There the dream was born to pursue what she had always wanted to do.


"A mammogram saved my life!  Before breast cancer awareness month is over, pick up the phone and schedule your mammogram!  Call your loved ones and make sure they have their mammograms scheduled.  I had a happy ending to my story because of an early diagnosis, treatment, a positive attitude and an army of supporters.  I want happy endings for everyone!" 

Patti had her diagnosis in September of 2005 - She is a 16 year survivor.  Her children were 2 and 4 when she got the news. They are 19 and 21 now.  "Having cancer made me realize that every single day I have with them is a blessing.  The hugs were more special. The conversations with them are etched on my heart.  So now in 2022, I'm celebrating by continuing to do what I love.   DANCE!"

"At the end of the day, my experience was the greatest blessing, honestly it was. I can’t look back and not think that it was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I made my mark where it counted.  And now Brundidge is our new home and  I look forward to the new adventure!" 


Patti Rutland Simpson, of Patti Rutland Jazz is pictured with Miss America 1995 Heather Whitestone McCallum, her former student, at the Dothan Opera House.

Dr. Monique Witherspoon

Samford University

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