Marjorie: Breast and Cervical Cancer Survivor
Dedicated to tomorrow's mission
Marjorie Worthy had both the best and the worst experiences of her life in 2012.
The best, and happiest, was in April when as a surprise for her 80th birthday, her son
and daughter flew in from the Caribbean for a celebration weekend.
The worst, and most stressful, was in January when two masses were discovered in her right breast.
Marjorie had survived cancer before. Back in 1998 when she lived in Flushing, New York, she was diagnosed with Stage 3B cervical cancer and was treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy followed by a hysterectomy. Marjorie considered herself lucky that her Flushing surgeon recognized her surname. He had gone to college and had worked in a hospital in Trinidad with her son.
When Marjorie moved to Connecticut in 1999, she worked for three years, as a seamstress at Costume Bazaar in New Haven, altering costumes. After suffering severe back and hip pain, she had a right hip replacement. Eight days later, while in rehabilitation, she suffered a bone fracture, requiring emergency surgery. Today she walks with a cane to avoid falling.
Last October, Marjorie decided to take the train to New York, followed by a subway ride to Queens, to visit a friend. The next morning, she awoke with a pain in her outer breast. She thought it was a strained muscle from going up and down the subway stairs.
“Fortunately, I had an appointment with my GYN doctor for a follow-up visit,” noted Marjorie. “Instead of seeing my regular doctor, who is a male, I saw a female doctor. And I told her about the breast pain. She immediately sent me for a mammogram.
After two mammograms and two ultrasounds, I met Dr. Anees Chagpar, Director of the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Dr. Chagpar told me that there were two masses in the outer side of my right breast.
“And the miracle journey started from there. You don’t know how many people are in the same condition until you are in it and hear about their experiences. I was scared, wondering what mine would be.”
Marjorie relies deeply on her Buddhist faith. “Buddhism is not a religion,” she explains. “It is a philosophy of life, which promotes world peace through individual happiness. Once you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with strong faith and determination to transform your life, you can win by overcoming troubles and difficulties. My members and friends continuously chanted with me and were very supportive. Though I had some fear, I believed deep down in my heart that I could beat this cancer. My motto is I shall not be defeated.”
Marjorie met again with Dr. Chagpar to discuss her options. On Dr. Chagpar’s advice she had a lumpectomy in February. The pathology report showed that the margins were not clean. Margin is a term used to describe whether there are cancer cells right at the edge of the tissue that has been removed. A second operation also showed cancer cells still remained so in April, two weeks after her joyous 80th birthday celebration, Marjorie had a mastectomy. The surgery was a success. Marjorie continues her cancer treatment, taking a chemopreventive pill once a day. And despite the fact that she suffers daily pain from her hip surgery, Marjorie’s attitude is upbeat.
“Dr. Chagpar was the best thing that happened to me,” said Marjorie. “I went to the right person in the right place at the right time. She is so kind, and speaks so softly that she captures your heart and puts all your fears to rest. I was really scared but just being in the environment of the Breast Center and feeling the atmosphere of the people there made me comfortable. The place is so calm and people are so kind and respectful. They showed me love. Even to this day, I enjoy going there. But I couldn’t have survived without having a strong faith, faith in my Buddhist practice.
“My mission is to be an inspiration to my family, my members and the whole universe. Even though we don’t win, we don’t have to lose. That means you must not give up. We shall not be defeated. We have to keep fighting. That is the story of my life as a two-time cancer survivor.”