Patient Stories – Marlys

“I feel so lucky. CMBC was the best thing that ever happened to me! They took care of me, they continue to take care of me, and they will take care of you too.”


Marlys has two daughters, ten years apart, and was married for 32 years until her husband passed nine years ago. She’s worked for a neurology clinic for 16 years, and otherwise lives a quiet life with her one daughter who is special needs. Although Marlys knew that there was a history of cancer in her family, she had a high deductible with her medical insurance and therefore kept putting off mammograms. Her older daughter kept encouraging her to go, reminding her that her aunt had a history of breast cancer, but she still didn’t go.

Until one day her daughter saw a posting on Facebook that Carol Milgard Breast Center offered no cost mammograms to those in need, reminding everyone that money should not be a reason for putting off a mammogram – particularly if there is a history of breast cancer in the family.

Her daughter called and set up the appointment, and she went. When she received the call asking her to come back in for a biopsy, she was nervous and wasn’t sure how she could afford it, but Carol Milgard Breast Center said she qualified for financial assistance and not to worry. After the biopsy they asked her to come back to talk to the nurse who would go over the results. Her daughter was unable to go with her for the appointment, and she didn’t want to go alone, but knew it was important. So, she went, and received the news that she had cancer.

Marlys had two surgeries to remove the cancer, and she says that her doctor, a woman, was very easy to work with and very caring. “Yes, it was terrible, and scary,” explained Marlys, “but everyone was so caring and supportive. The Breast Center helped to connect me to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), who helped me financially so that I could get the care I needed. Honestly the surgery was not that bad, I was back to work four days after the second surgery, it was the radiation that was difficult.”

Marlys went through about eight weeks of radiation and was then cancer-free.

Five years later she remains cancer-free, but she says the experience truly changed her life.

“If I had continued to hesitate, and my daughter hadn’t pushed me, it could have been a lot worse. I am now a big advocate for getting checked and make sure my sister and daughters get checked as well.”

Marlys says her family is now a lot closer because of her journey. Much of her family lives far away, but nieces and nephews, who she hadn’t heard from in years, re-connected. Her brother checked in from Virginia, and her sister came to be with her for both her surgeries. She said everyone from CMBC, to the radiation techs who advised her on creams and flannels for comfort after the radiation, SCCA, as well as her employer, were supportive and caring. “Even my youngest daughter, who I care for, took care of me emotionally.”

Marlys now has Medicare, so her regular check-ups and mammograms are covered, but she wants to remind everyone that there’s help if you need it, and not having insurance or a high deductible should never be reason for not getting a mammogram.

“I feel so lucky. CMBC was the best thing that ever happened to me! They took care of me, they continue to take care of me, and they will take care of you too.”

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