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'Keep your eye on the ball'

Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012, at 10:06 AM

Photo provided by Tara McMillian Photography Chris Marshall credits a positive attitude and a sense of humor with helping to sustain her through her recent breast cancer fight.
Courtney Luke

If at any time during her recent breast cancer battle Chris Marshall felt herself beginning to get depressed or lose focus, she would remind herself of the wise words her 25 year old son Tyler had given her, "Keep your eye on the ball!" This rang especially true when she faced a mastectomy.

In the Spring of 2011, after much persuasion from a dear friend, Chris scheduled a mammogram. Because of the discomfort she felt during previous visits, she had postponed this one for nearly four years.

"I have no breast cancer in my family, I had no lump," she explained.

But results from that mammogram revealed concern. The radiologist requested additional pictures be taken and a biopsy was performed.

The next day, she received a call informing her that she did indeed have breast cancer.

The cancer was located in her milk duct. Chris was notified that she would need a mastectomy.

When she recalls those days, she remembers that she cried a lot, but finally she accepted it.

"Once I accepted it, then I quit crying." She explained that she initially dealt with many emotions such as depression and anger, but once her change of mind happened, things went much more smoothly.

Chris decided she was going to have a positive attitude and a sense of humor. She claims she has laughed a lot and over what she considers silly things, but she is enjoying herself, staying focused and keeping her eye on the ball.

"When you lose a body part, it is an adjustment. You lose part of your identity", she revealed. During that time, she once again took her son's advice.

Chris also explained that a frustration she had was not knowing what to expect. She did much of her own research including which doctors to use. She explained that although she only recently underwent her final surgery, she would be willing to talk to others battling breast cancer and help them understand that process.

Chris also explained that her definition of pain changed dramaitcally once this all began.

She does consider herself one of the lucky ones. Her disease was caught early, she did not need chemotherapy or radiation and as a result, never lost her hair.

While attending a support group meeting, she noticed she was the only one there who actually still had her hair.

She explained that the entire process is extraordinary and nearly overwhelming. The amount of paperwork necessary for insurance processing and the medical procedures themselves are time consuming.

Chris chose to use medical facilities in Cape Girardeau because she wanted to be able to come home and sleep in her own bed, spend time in her own yard, and continue to enjoy her own life.

"You will get through it. You may not think you're going to, but you will", she said with confidence. And of course, her motto, "Keep your eye on the ball!" will help.

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