Mary Marshall, My Inspiration

The last year of my mother's life was one of dignity, pain, memories, assistance, sadness, humor, and appreciation for a life well lived. Mary Ellen Carter Marshall had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 at the age of 62. She did not smoke, drink, or take drugs. She was the most physically active woman I knew, being an avid tennis player, golfer, walker, and bicycle rider. She was a Silver Master bridge player. She ate nutritious food (aside from the occasional See's chocolate!). She dedicated her working life to serving Sacramento's children as a teacher and principal at numerous elementary and middle schools. She volunteered her time at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Oak Park Preschool and other community organizations. After retirement in 1989, she pursued her lifelong hobby of portrait drawing and developed it into a full-fledged and profitable watercolor art business. Her three children and three grandchildren observed an unusually active mother and grandmother who played tennis with them, encouraged them to paint, beat them unmercilessly at Scrabble, and . . . made the occasional batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

A lengthy course of chemotherapy and a mastectomy seemed to chase the cancer away and seven years had passed cancer free giving her an almost normal life again. However, the scourge came back during the summer of 2003 migrating from her breast and filling her lungs with poison. Herceptin - an inhibitor against breast cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation seemed to nip it in the bud again during the winter of 2003, but it came back stronger and stronger each summer, until 2006 when the doctors said it had spread throughout her brain. The next six months - her last - zapped her ability to care for herself. Bedridden and unable to move her limbs, she still entertained with dignity the many friends and family who loyally visited her everyday. She never lost her spirit. She never stopped trying to be a contributing part of this world.

This great lady joined her deceased mother and siblings on January 27, 2007. This blog is dedicated to her and all who have fought, or who are still fighting the fight with breast cancer.

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