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.