The Richmond Register

October 9, 2013

Cancer survivor provides support for others juggling careers, family and treatment

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer


A tough journey through breast cancer treatment has helped one local woman be a friend to lean on for other other women stricken with the disease.

Marsha Elliott was diagnosed in November 2009 at Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center following a routine mammogram. After her exam showed a suspicious shape, she had an ultrasound and a biopsy of a small tumor the size of a navy bean in her breast. The biopsy’s result was inconclusive, so she opted to have a lumpectomy to remove the mass

At her next doctor’s appointment, she quickly realized things hadn’t gone well.

“I could tell from his face something was wrong,” Elliott said.

She was no stranger to breast cancer because her mother had been diagnosed with the disease just five months before. Her mother went through a double mastectomy and other treatments.

In early January, Elliott started her chemotherapy. She had a round every three weeks, which ended in March 2010. Next, she had a radiation treatment every day for a total of 38 rounds until the end of May.

“I was blessed that I was never sick for one moment,” Elliott said, adding she did sometimes feel tired and worked to take care of herself.

Her husband, Joe, and her children – two boys who were 10 and 12 at the time – also were major sources of strength as were her family and friends.

Elliott is the technology and communications manager at First Baptist Church on the Eastern Bypass. She kept herself busy during her treatments with child rearing and her job, which she missed for only half a day while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

Elliott’s cancer is now in remission, but she has checkups every three to four months with her doctors. This will continue for another two years.

Elliott said being diagnosed with cancer at 44 gave her a younger person’s perspective on managing the illness along with raising children and pursuing a career. This has movtivated her to reach out to women in their 30s and 40s who also are experiencing similar challenges, including several of her friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was going through it to help someone else,” Elliott said. “... It helps when you have someone your own age to talk to. I walked it before them so I could help them.”

Elliott credits the Madison County Breast Cancer Support Group for helping her get through those first few years of life after diagnosis. She doesn’t attend it meetings as regularly now because of her family and work responsibilities, but she encourages other women to attend the group for support.

For more information about the support group, call Arlayne Francis at 623-4601.

Surviving cancer has definitely changed Elliott’s outlook on life.

“You don’t take a day for granted,” Elliott said. “You look at things differently when (the doctors) walk in and tell you that you have cancer.”

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at or 624-6694.