2October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month but in Marsha Martin’s case, every month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

A survivor of cancer, she clearly remembers her first mammogram at the age of 40 in 1976. “I just knew they would call [telling me I had cancer]. Instead, the phone never rang and I spent a wonderful vacation in San Francisco with my husband.”

Faithfully, every year, Martin would schedule a mammogram appointment, keep that appointment and endure the mammogram procedure. Each year, the results were the same. No cancer.

Until 2011, when she thought that perhaps she would skip a year’s mammogram and go on like everything was fine. Something gnawed deep down inside of her telling her not to do that. She went for the mammogram.

After traveling back from Reno, she walked into her home to the phone ringing. It was the radiologist who wanted her to come back after making the 150 mile trek back home. Martin knew instantly it was “cancer”. Instead of panicking, she told them she would be back in the following morning.

Keeping her word, she went back that morning to find out that there were two to three small white spots and a biopsy would need to be performed.

After completing the tests, Martin would again make her way home to wait for the news she already knew was coming.
“It’s cancer,” the doctor informed her, when he called her at home with the results.

Though the spots were very small at only seven millimeters, it was still cancer and treatment needed to begin quickly in order for a good diagnoses.

Undergoing a partial mastectomy, Martin would endure radiation, but had faith in her doctors, oncologist and surgeon.

“A doctor here in Hawthorne helped me with the technical points of breast cancer. He explained everything clearly to me.” Feeling informed helped Martin through the removal, but aftercare was another ordeal.

“Jean Sanderson took care of me for six weeks of radiation. After those six weeks, I am surprised we are still friends. She never left my side, took care of me and took me to my appointments.” Martin fondly remembers.

No lymph nodes were involved in the cancer, but Martin still visits an oncologist every three to six months for aftercare. To date, she is still cancer free.

“I knew I’d get cancer. It was destined. I lost my father at the age of 49 to brain cancer; my mother at 81 to pancreatic cancer and have had two brothers die from it. Knowing I had cancer was no big surprise. I still have a brother who is battling a rare form, and has been for quite some time.” Martin reflects.

“I am 78 years old and lived the most wonderful life with Jerry [her husband, now deceased]. I have amazing children and grandchildren.”

Martin wants those to know that all need to be tested for breast cancer. “If funding is a problem, there is money out there. St. Mary’s Hospital [in Reno] has an amazing breast cancer program.”

Others are afraid of the unknown. “If it is fear – if fear is what stops them, what if they had a cancer like mine? It could be gone. You have to do it [testing] for your family. Younger women are getting diagnosed. I think they [mammograms] should be done at age 30. Younger women are stricken with it. Though our government is crappy about paying for things like this, do it.”

Martin has proved to be a true survivor and a spokeswoman for breast cancer survivors throughout Mineral County.

In parting, she says, “I believe in getting mammograms.”