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March 2012 Survivor of the Month – Marie Maddox
Marie Maddox’s Story by Elizabeth H.R. Osterberger
March’s Survivor, Marie Maddox, wanted her photo taken in her church, the place where she finds solace in this crazy world. We met one sunny afternoon and went into the sanctuary to take her photos. She came prepared with a bevy of pinkness! A feather boa, scarves, the sweater she was wearing, her bracelet… She told me a lot of what she wrote in response to her questionnaire when we met there that day. Her responses are extremely detailed and eloquent, so I’m not going to change very much at all.
Marie says, “As a woman in my fifties I had been getting a yearly mammogram for many years. On one particular visit to my family doctor I mentioned a tiny spot on the side of my left breast that would hurt when I would lie on my left side. Since I had not had my yearly mammogram the doctor scheduled me to have one. I went for my appointment and the radiologist noticed a change in the questionable area which led me to an appointment with the breast surgeon. After a needle biopsy the Doctor determined it to be an “invasive ductal carcinoma” and it should be removed. During this same week my sister, ten years my senior, was also being diagnosed, by a different doctor, with breast cancer on the same left breast. Neither of us knowing the other was at the doctor being checked for the same thing!! My sister was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, as I was diagnosed with stage 1. My sister had to undergo a mastectomy of the left breast and extreme Chemotherapy every three weeks. I was spared the Chemo because the stage one was successfully removed. I was prescribed 33 radiation treatments. Monday through Friday for 6 ½ weeks. My daughter drove me into Savannah from Bloomingdale everyday for the fifteen minute treatment. We enjoyed our time together each day with laughter and an occasional visit to various thrift shops (we call it junkin’). The treatments were not painful and the attendants at the hospital were cheerful and very supportive. Not only that, my radiologists was handsome and had a good sense of humor!! During the last week of my radiation I experienced some blisters on the site but the cream, Elta, suggested by the doctor eased the pain and helped heal them quickly.”
That day that we met and talked, she almost talked more about her sister than herself, ” The real cancer survivor is my sister, Micki Otto. I watched her go through the Chemo every three weeks that made her very sick for several days. We even made some trips to the doctors together as we had the same surgeon. She did lose her hair and had all the common known side effects of Chemo, but she has truly survived!! She just had her last Chemo treatment February 2. She was supposed to continue until the middle of March. The Radiologist ended them early because she was doing so well. There were weeks I wasn’t sure she would survive those treatments, but many were praying for her recovery and we knew God wasn’t finished with her yet. ” The bond between sisters, strengthened by a shared experience no doubt was very beneficial to their recoveries.
“The positive enforcement from Susan G. Komen gives hope. Cancer is not the end of a woman’s life, but the beginning of a journey that we can make it through. To know that research is ongoing to cure this disease so that our daughters and other women will not be faced with this journey is encouraging to the survivors and other women all over the world,” Marie says of how Susan G. Komen inspires her life.
As it was very evident the day we were together, I could see PINK was very important to Marie, “The wearing of the “pink” serves to remind me that I am a survivor and that many others can survive this intruder. I wore pink each time I went to the radiation treatments so others could see that they did not have to let this Cancer rule their life, but to celebrate the fact that you can HAVE a life.”
She also says, “Don’t let the diagnosis steal your joy!! I believe laughter is the best medicine. Surround yourself with people who smile, laugh and enjoy life. You may have to be the one to smile, laugh and live, but if so do it with flare. Many times I would have on my pink boa when I went to the doctor or radiation. I might be wearing my scarf with the Susan G. Komen ribbons on it or my pearl bracelet with the pink ribbon on it, but always a big smile to say “Hang on girl, this too shall pass!” Going to each appointment I would pray and ask God to let me be a help or hope to someone there who needed a hug or an encouraging word. Trust God and let Him use you during this time in your life. All things work for good to those who love Him!!”
“Support of Susan G. Komen for the cure is needed everywhere. The research being done to end the threat of breast cancer can save our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends from going through this journey. I witnessed both ends of the spectrum seeing my sister have stage 4 Breast Cancer to myself having stage 1. My sister did not have yearly mammograms done. I had one done every year. The one thing I would like to do in the effort to save lives is to stress” YEARLY MAMMOGRAMS FOR EARLY DETECTION! Breast Cancer does not have to be a death sentence.” Those were her parting words in her story she wrote for all of us and are great words to hang on to if you’re newly diagnosed or undergoing treatment.