No one expects to get cancer, but every year, 12.7 million people around the globe discover they have it.
Many, like Marcie Martelle, are living healthy lives and have no family history of cancer. That cancer diagnosis throws them into a tailspin.
"It was like I was outside of my body, I couldn't believe I was hearing the words ‘you have cancer’. It was quite a shock," the Maine native and accountant explained. She is gearing up to take part in her second Dempsey Challenge. For her, the Challenge and the Center it supports are extremely important to her for deeply personal reasons. A year ago, Marcie Martelle battled a rare form of breast cancer. She says the services she received from the Dempsey Center truly saved her life.
Martelle’s diagnosis came out of the blue. A professed health nut, she received the phone call with the life altering news just before turning 43. It was triple negative breast cancer and she decided to attack it, aggressively. Martelle explains, "I opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction."
And, such a powerful course of treatment meant a long recovery, a tricky road to navigate when you live alone, as Marcie Martelle does. “One of the biggest things for me is that I Iive alone,” she shared. “As I was going through all this, it was interesting, I (journalled) as I was going through treatment, even before treatment.” She looked back over that journal recently, “and my biggest fear that seemed to be overriding in that journal was living alone and how am I gong to do this, how am I going to get through each day?”
Her doctors at the Bennett Breast Center in Lewiston directed her to the nearby Dempsey Center. She remembers, “I'm in the elevator like this (hunched up) and I walk out and(exhales)it's like I just took this deep breath and I said 'wow, this place is amazing and I haven't even learned what it is and why it's here yet."
What Martelle says she found was a wealth of emotional, physical and practical services---all, available to her, free of charge. She joined a group called ‘From Cancer to Health’ which taught her array of stress management and coping skills. “It gives you techniques, tips and tools that you can do to help you get through every day whether it be how to communicate with your doctors or figuring out what you need,” she shared. "One of the biggest things I took away from that was this thing called a circle of support and for someone like me who lived alone I really needed to know who is in this circle? Who can you rely on for emotional support? Because when you get to it that day and you need groceries and there's nothing in the house and you have to stay in the house because your blood counts are so low that you're at risk for infection, who can do this?"
She says the class taught her incredibly important lessons: that it’s okay to go from independent to being dependent upon others and that often the most critical part of fighting cancer is learning how to accept help from others. “There’s a session on education and prevention and there’s sessions on effectively communicating with whoever it might be: a family member, your doctors, co-workers, whatever it is, that class really embodies the Dempsey Center.”
And then there is the emotional support she received at the center. “To have that connection to other people who are going through this cancer journey, they understand the daily struggles and challenges, the fears and concerns you have or just being able to share your stories, to be able to talk to people like me who live it day in and day out or have experienced it and are on the other side of it, it’s invaluable,” she says. “It really gives you a whole other level of inspiration and courage and strength to get through every day.”
Shortly after her invasive surgery, still in pain and bruised, Marcie Martelle joined volunteers at the Dempsey Challenge. She rang a bell and cheered for the thousands whose sweat and determination helped her and so many others who are impacted by cancer. “You can't throw a stone and not hit someone who is impacted with cancer in one way or another, so they're there for themselves, a family member, a co-worker, friend or whatever that might be and they understand the need for the resource, the multiple resources that this facility can provide."
Marcie Martelle is now 44 and gearing up for her second Dempsey Challenge. This time, she won’t be on the sidelines. She plans to take part in the 5k. And, as she covers that route, she says one of the biggest lessons she will be concentrating on is the wisdom that has come out of her cancer journey. “One thing I’ve taken away from this is that you can’t control cancer, you’re either gonna get it or you’re not gonna get it. I can’t control whether it comes back, but what I can control is what I do about it,” Martelle outlined. “Being able to raise funds for the Dempsey Challenge, which goes right into running this facility, I can do something about it and I can take pride in it.”
The 2016 Dempsey Challenge takes place the weekend of October 1st and 2nd.There is time to sign up to take part in the ride, run, walk or to volunteer.
The run/walk is on Saturday and the Bike Ride is on Sunday.
To register head to "dempsey challenge dot org".
All the money raised from the event benefits the Dempsey Center.
Copyright 2016 WCSH