Fighting the Good Fight: Ovarian Cancer

By: Nicole Holt Email
By: Nicole Holt Email

For Martha Sutherland, each day she wakes up is a blessing.
And it's this kind of attitude, that's not only surprising but motivating; Martha has stage IV Ovarian Cancer.

“I am inoperable, because it has spread outside my abdominal area into my right lung. I’m inoperable. To live I have do to chemo.”

So on this day, that's exactly what she's doing, living. Martha let us follow her around during a chemo treatment at the Texas Oncology Center in Sherman. Through the exam, the blood work, and the chemo, Martha raises awareness to this silently and sometimes deadly form of cancer.

Diagnosed in August 2006, Martha thought her symptoms lead to something else. “I had diarrhea, I lost weight, I thought it was because I was eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and was going to exercise class religiously. So if get on the internet and I diagnose myself with IBS and it was only when my stomach bloated that I realized something was seriously wrong.

She was right. The symptoms were identical but the results were far from common. “When he mentioned the word Ovarian and Uteran, I remember the Gilder Radner e-mail that went around years ago about her symptoms. I think I knew. I was prepared for the worst when I went to the doctor, and I got the worst. But I'm still alive.

And that's the attitude she has each day. Martha has undergone more than 20 rounds of chemo in the last few months, and through it all her spirits high. “I think it's important to live their life like they did. You can not go home and sit down and feel sorry for yourself. That is absolutely the worst thing in the world you can do.

And Martha stands by her beliefs. For more than 40 years she's worked at the Richardson Law Firm in downtown Sherman as a Paralegal. Everyday 8am-5pm you will find this strong willed woman sitting at her desk working. There's never a pity party, in fact within 30 minutes of finishing up this chemo treatment, Martha's headed right back to work. It’s her support group that keeps her going. "I still every single day get cards. This one is from a friend of mine that has colon cancer. (Reads emails) “Martha, thinking of you and wishing you a day of peace and happiness, I’m doing okay, just a little weak. I try all the time.” “What a delightful afternoon we had on Sunday, it's always fun to discuss days gone by and remember how it was when we were younger and life wasn't so complicated. Love you bunches, your first playmate.”

Now Martha's mission is to spread awareness of Ovarian Cancer. This year alone more than 25,000 women will be affected, 15,000 will lose the battle, including a woman that not only touched Martha’s life, but ours here at KXII. Our friend, our colleague, Denee Frazer.

Denee was the kind of person you met once, and she was your best friend. She was always willing to help, and always full of hope.

It was Denee’s can do attitude that motivated Martha to take on a big challenge. “We were to speak in May at the Relay for Life in Denison. She was supposed to speak and she was sick, she couldn't get up. I thought, I've got to do it. I have to do this for Denee and I did it. I didn't have any problems until I walked around that track and there were hundreds of people clapping. I thought to myself, they are clapping for me. I’m a survivor, that's when I lost it.”

When Martha got home that night she wrote an email to Denee, excited about her achievement. “I said I did it! I did it for us. You were in my thoughts and prayers and you will always be there. Denee died Sunday morning, but Saturday night I got an email and of course I knew it was from mark.”

Mark Frazer says he wrote the email, but it came straight from Denee’s heart. “She knew you could do it, you go girl."

Now Martha's spreading the word wherever and whenever she can. “I know what’s probably going to kill me. In all honesty it's probably going to be Ovarian Cancer, but I could have a heart attack. I could die in a car accident. I really don't spend much time thinking about how much time I have left. As a matter of fact, I have told my doctors I don't want to know."

Living your life one day at a time, sounds so simple, yet so complicated.

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  • by cynthia Location: birmingham, Al on Dec 30, 2007 at 06:50 PM
    Martha: It was important for me to hear your story. You are giving me the courage to fight again. You see I had breast cancer in 2000, ovarian in 2004, and recurrent ovarian in 2006. My CA-125 is spiking again and we will retest this January. I don't know if I can go through the weekly rounds of chemotherapy again. I have been a fighter but I am so tired. Are there any other options besides the chemo. They refuse to do surgery again because of the many surgeries I have already had. The chemo in 2004 left me with a ruptured colon and temporary colosomy. I have two beautiful children and tell myself to be grateful for the good days I have. I hate to pity myself but again I'm so worn out. Any ideas to boost my immune system. I hate this disase. It's taken control over my life like choking vines. I love life, I love my family, I want to live, but I want the Old cynthia back -- the one before cancer, -- the one with a lifted heart. God has been my only refuge.
  • by Alicia & Ken D. Location: Denison on Jul 27, 2007 at 04:09 PM
    Martha is probably the strongest woman we know...and the best friend anyone could ask for! If anyone could turn this horrible thing that has happened to her into something positive for everyone around's Martha!! Martha, what you are doing is AWESOME and you will never know how many lives you have touched with your story or how many lives you will save just by being so being you!! We pray for you daily and you are always in our hearts. Lots of love and we will see you soon! And thank you KXII for airing Martha's courageous story!
  • by Debbie Location: Denison on Jul 26, 2007 at 08:32 PM
    Thank you, Martha for helping all of us to learn more about this dreadful disease. Thank you to KXII for presenting her story. It is a real inspiration! Her strength is awesome!
  • by Rebecca Location: Howe on Jul 26, 2007 at 07:37 PM
    I thank God for allowing me and Ethan to know and love you and for him allowing and helping you to make everyone more aware of Ovarian Cancer. As I sit here and read these comments... what a blessing God has given us, having you and your witnessing as part of many peoples' life. I hope you are able to realize how you have been able to help people physically and touch them spirtually. WE LOVE YOU!!!
  • by Randall L. Fluke Location: Beaumont, TX on Jul 26, 2007 at 06:36 PM
    KXII- What an incredibly brave and beautiful lady. Please keep this story and the one to follow (signs of OV) on your web site, permanently. You and Martha and Denee can keep spreading the word. Sincerely, Randall L. Fluke
  • by Janice Location: Weimar, Texas on Jul 26, 2007 at 06:47 AM
    Even though I have never met Martha, she is truly an inspiration to me. I am 42 years old and I too am battling ovarian cancer and we e-mail each other about this journey we are on. I send her my updates as they take place and she shares hers as well. I am so glad your station did this feature on her and Denee. If it makes at least one woman go to the doctor because of symptoms she may be having that are similar to ovarian ca symptoms, then that is at least one life hopefully spared from this dreaded disease. Making the public aware of this disease is the greatest tribute you could pay to Denee. So kudos to KXII and also to Martha for their outstanding work with this feature.
  • by Chris Location: Sherman on Jul 25, 2007 at 06:31 PM
    Thank You Nicole Holt, and KXII, for doing this story. Women everywhere need to hear it - and Martha is just the person to tell it! She's certainly a fantastic lady - and has been an inspiration to so many of us. I know Denee was an inspiration and good buddy to Martha- as she speaks of her often. God Bless Them Both - And their families.
  • by Erin Location: Sherman on Jul 25, 2007 at 07:49 AM
    You all did a fantastic job on this story. Martha is such an inspiration to us all. Denee' would be proud of her and Mark for caring on with what she wanted done.
  • by Barbara Location: Sherman on Jul 25, 2007 at 07:03 AM
    Martha, Your positive attitude and AWESOME outlook on life has made me realize that I have prayed and tried to help my friends fighting cancer but it took your struggle and your messages to "really bring it home to me. I realize that some way I need to do more for my friends, more than just being there for them. I have just taken them for granted and continued on my merry way. Because of you, I will try more. You are soooooo special and I appreciate my friendship with you. Hang in there.....
  • by Charlotte Location: Sherman on Jul 25, 2007 at 06:22 AM
    To my best friend. Over 45 years of real friendship I just want you to know you are my inspiration through every day I get up. I want to complain and then I think of you. I say, Thank you Lord for giving me a friend like Martha. You have always been a strong willed person and there for me AND God will get you though. You are a beautiful lady and I am so glad to call you my best friend.
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