Marlene King’s Breast Cancer Story, Part II

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— “My purpose is to touch women and men who get breast cancer” —Marlene King

Marlene King does not consider herself a breast cancer survivor, but a breast cancer warrior. Since her breast cancer diagnosis in 2008 at age 48, she has had a lumpectomy, a double-mastectomy, and has undergone breast reconstructive surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In July 2012, she found out that she had Stage 4 metastatic cancer.

At Stage 4, the cancer has metastasized and spread from the part of the body where it started to other parts of the body. For King, that meant the cancer had spread to her chest wall, lungs and sternum.

Despite the news, which came with the prognosis that she only had 24 to 36 months to live, King continued to fight. Nearly three years later, her valiant battle continues. However, King isn’t just fighting for herself, she is fighting for other women as well. King is a board member of METAvivor Research & Support, Inc., and serves as president of The Journey Continues Breast Cancer Organization.

METAvivor is dedicated to the specific fight of women and men living with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. The goals of the organization are to sustain hope for those living with metastatic breast cancer; rally public attention to the urgent needs of the metastatic breast cancer community; to help patients find strength through support and purpose; and to work with researchers to regain longevity with quality of life.

The organization awards research grants to individuals with a clinical or other doctoral degree who are actively engaged in areas of metastatic breast cancer research and whose proposals show distinct promise in making a difference for those with Stage 4 breast cancer. The goal of METAvivor’s funding efforts is to transition metastatic breast cancer from a terminal diagnosis to a chronic, manageable disease with a decent quality of life.

“My journey hasn’t been a healthy one, but I have been able to reach out and help other women,” said King who recently celebrated her 55th birthday. “My purpose is to touch women and men who get breast cancer. I like to take the focus off of me, and focus on someone else.”

King, who lost her mother to metastatic ovarian cancer added, “Younger women are getting Stage 4 cancer more aggressively, and are passing away quicker— we don’t know why, which is why research is needed.”

King is married to Eric King, who is a pastor. The couple has three children, two grandchildren, and has been married for 29 years. King noted that her husband has been instrumental in her fight against cancer.

“Women need to let their husbands know what is going on in their lives,” said King who is a native of Jamaica. “Black women are strong and viable, but we still need help. Many husbands want to help, but many women are not opening up and involving them. Women need to take their husbands to their doctor’s and chemotherapy appointments. They have to be a part of the process.”

She added, “Eric is my chauffer, cook, prayer warrior, hugger, and friend. When my hair falls out, and my skin itches so bad that it peels off, he tells me I am beautiful. It makes me feel better. I can see it in his face and eyes and it makes me say ‘I can do this. I can make it through this period of my life.’ He is such a great guy.”

King also talked about the importance of other forms of support such as The Journey Continues Breast Cancer Organization.

“There are about 20 women in the group,” said King. “The women have cancer that ranges from stage one to stage four. We support and encourage one another. We also go to churches, various affairs and events to reach out and let others know we are here. Women fighting breast cancer not only need support from their families, but other women.”

King said the group also accepts donations to provide monetary assistance to women battling breast cancer.

“There are so many women out there who lose their jobs because they are going through treatment,” said King. “These women need help with paying their bills. If these women have to pay 20 percent of a $100,000 medical bill, it puts a lot of stress on them that they do not need. We are praying for donations to help women pay their bills.”

For more information about The Journey Continues Breast Cancer Organization, including upcoming meetings, call 667-231-6440 or email: info@tjccares.org. For more information about METAvivor, visit: www.metavivor.org.