Danielle Spencer as Dee in the ’70s sitcom What’s Happening; Spencer today
ABC; Danielle Spencer

One of the most memorable lines from the ’70s sitcom What’s Happening came from Raj’s bratty little sister, Dee. In at least every episode, Dee, played by Danielle Spencer, had her “Ooh, I’m gonna tell Momma” moment. What’s Happening had a successful run and even a spinoff called What’s Happening Now, but Spencer stepped away from the spotlight to focus on her education and career. She attended Tuskegee University, where she majored in veterinary science, and then became a veterinarian. Her career had her focusing on the health of animals, but now she’s focusing on her own.

In an interview with BlackAmericaWeb, Spencer discussed her recent breast-cancer diagnosis, which took her by surprise. “Surgery is definitely one of the options,” she said. “I’m trying to get as many opinions as possible, but it does look [like] that is what I’m going to do. Hopefully after that, there won’t be any chemotherapy or radiation. With everything that I’ve been through with the spinal cord injury, I know God is not going to give me another affliction. So I was completely shocked when the doctors told me.”

The injury Spencer referred to is from a car accident during her time on What’s Happening, which affected her 26 years later and caused her to have a bout with paralysis.

Although Spencer was diagnosed with cancer a month ago, she is also focusing on the positive. Recently she became the only child star to be inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As part of her induction, when the museum opens in 2015, she will be included in the permanent exhibition of the museum.

“I still can’t believe it,” she said. “That’s something people can look at for years to come, long after I’m gone.”