Marsha Morley is no stranger to overcoming health challenges. In her early 30s, she experienced the beginning effects of a congenital defect of her lungs. After several surgeries and hospitalizations, she began the full-time use of an oxygen tank. Despite being burdened with what some might see as a literal “ball and chain,” Marsha continued to live her life to the fullest. Filled with a love for travel, Marsha’s zest for life accompanied her “can-do” attitude. This attitude served as important groundwork for what lay ahead.
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Marsha had always been vigilant about her annual mammograms. In October 2004, a lump prompted a call to her doctor. A mammogram led to an ultrasound which led to a biopsy, all in the same day. “There was an immediate shift in the radiologist’s tone,” Marsha recalls. Ironically, Marsha was “living life” on a trip to Tunica, Mississippi a few days later when she got the call with her biopsy results: She had stage II breast cancer.
Less than a month later, Marsha had a mastectomy and lymph node removal and began years of hormone therapy. In 2007 she made the decision to have her remaining breast removed, a fortuitous choice as it turned out there was a developing tumor that Marsha had not detected. Marsha’s initial diagnosis and treatment all happened so quickly that she didn’t have time to mourn. “I never stopped; I kept moving and then I got mad,” Marsha says. “But, in time, I felt like I’d actually had it so easy and that I had no right to feel angry. I decided to turn the anger into something positive and began knitting and crocheting blankets and chemo hats and making pillows for patients post-mastectomy.”
It was through distributing those chemo hats and blankets that Marsha found PearlPoint. Our social worker listened to Marsha’s concerns, talked with her about how she was feeling and what she had been through, and pointed her to support groups and other resources for survivors.
Almost a decade into her survivorship, Marsha frequently shares her cancer experience with other survivors and has also become a champion of mammograms. “You have to know your body and take control of your medical care…tests are our friends,” she says. She also continues to make pillows, chemo hats, and blankets to provide a bit of warmth and comfort to others who may be feeling the way she once felt.
Marsha recognizes the value of support from the moment of diagnosis and continues to “pay it forward,” offering friendship to those who need it, including referrals to PearlPoint Cancer Support. “PearlPoint truly is a hidden ‘pearl’ for all cancer survivors and caregivers,” says Marsha. “I want the world to know about their valuable support.”