For Marlene Dawson-McGibbon, cancer wasn’t a death sentence

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT

Sunday, October 30, 2016

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MARLENE Dawson-McGibbon is preaching that cancer is not a death sentence and in fact can be seen as a blessing.


"So much good has happened to me since my diagnosis with breast cancer. I was promoted, I got baptised, I got married, and I got my visa," she told All Woman as she recounted her experience with the disease.


She said you should not neglect your health, as this could cost you in the future.


"It’s funny how I found out I had breast cancer. I was always going to the doctor and he was doing the breast examinations and [felt] nothing, so I never examined my breasts myself. God knows why I felt that lump under my arm in August 2012, because my doctor was feeling all that time and he never detected it," she said.


As a result of feeling this lump, Dawson-McGibbon said she proceeded to have it checked out and ended up doing a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and was told to wait seven working days for the results. However, when the results came on the fifth day she knew her worst fears were realised.


"I opened the results before going to the doctor and saw the word malignant and knew what it meant. However, when I went to the doctor I found out the cancer was in both breasts so I had to do a double mastectomy. I was referred to Kingston Public Hospital and given a week to decide whether I wanted to remove the lumps or do the mastectomy, but I was ready to chop them off, so I said, ‘Wait for what?’ And they explained that I had to think it over as they didn’t want me to curse them when I woke up and saw the breasts gone."


But when the time came for Dawson-McGibbon to do her surgery, she said she hopped on to the stretcher as she was just ready to beat her cancer.


Similarly, the process of chemotherapy, though rocky at first, eventually became easy to deal with as she just obeyed her body.


"The symptoms give a pregnancy feeling. Some days you feel for this, another time it’s something else. You just have to eat what you want. Some people are telling you to drink green juice, but no, you don’t want that. People going through pregnancy would know the feeling. They give you Gravol to take," she said.


She added: "Everybody’s system is different. However, your immune system has to be good. You can’t stay hungry, and anything I felt for that’s what I had. I followed my feelings. However, I lost my eyebrows, eyelashes; the only thing that never went was the hair on my legs."


Additionally, Dawson-McGibbon had to do radiation, which cost over $1 million for both her breasts, which led her to seek sponsorship from the CHASE Fund and Sagicor, which she received.


A former postman who rode to deliver letters, Dawson-McGibbon, who now works as an inspector with the local postal service, said her diet has not really changed, but she gets her fair share of vegetables and fruits daily while getting her intake of multivitamins.


She explained that she also has to be on medication to block the production of oestrogen as her cancer is oestrogen receptor positive.


As for support, Dawson-McGibbon said she gives much credit to Reach to Recovery and her mother, also a survivor, who never left her side.


While pleading with women to do their mammograms and breast self-examinations, she added that now she uses her experience to encourage other women going through similar issues.


"Women who call me any hour of the night, I answer, and I have to be there for them as people were there for me. Nothing happens without a reason. I’m glad I can help someone else," she said.

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