Fighting Cancer Gets Personal for Cervical Cancer SurvivorFeb 14, 2014
Krista Marx was passionate about fighting cancer long before she was diagnosed herself. While still in college in San Antonio, Texas, she supported her grandfather, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer. She drove him to treatments, did his laundry, and spent time with him in the hospital. When he died, she says she was left with a terrible heartache.
“It wasn’t just his passing that caused the ache,” said Marx. “He had taught me that if we’re not a part of the solution, we’re a part of the problem. I looked at the cancer that stole him and could feel nothing but anger, hatred, loss, and frustration. I didn’t know how to be a part of the solution and I struggled with that.”
Years later, Marx, a teacher, was appointed by her principal to head up the school’s new Relay For Life team. The American Cancer Society event is held every year in communities around the world, raising money to invest in research and to provide information and services to cancer patients and caregivers.
“Once I stepped foot on that track, I was hooked,” said Marx. “With Relay, I figured out I can do something about cancer.”
Relay For Life became a way for Marx to be part of the solution and to ensure her grandfather had not died in vain. She began taking on leadership roles and sharing her grandfather’s story at Relay events and meetings. In 2012, she was named a Caregiver Hero of Hope and spoke 97 times all over central Texas.
“The more I learned about the work of the American Cancer Society, the more passionate I became about Relaying,” she said, “because you never know whose life is going to be saved.”
In June, 2012, those words took on a new meaning for Marx. After a routine Pap test, Marx learned the results showed some suspicious cells. She underwent a follow-up procedure and then a biopsy, which confirmed cervical cancer. She was just 45 years old. At first, Marx says, she “freaked out.” But then she did some research, got the results from additional tests and biopsies, and soon determined that she was “one of the lucky ones.” Her cancer had not spread, and could be treated through surgery to remove her cervix and uterus. Regular checkups since then have found no cancer cells.
She now advocates for early screening, and encourages friends and family to stay up to date with American Cancer Society screening guidelines. Through her story, Marx encouraged 10 friends who had been putting off exams to make appointments. One friend got a mammogram that found breast cancer early, while it was easier to treat.
Says Marx, “As women, we get busy taking care of everyone else and we put things off, especially if we suspect bad news. Sharing stories gets the message out there. Being proactive saves lives.”
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