Central Resident Marjorie Welsh Shares Her Experience with Cancer

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By Mia Freneaux
    Marjorie Welsh has a quick sense of humor and beautiful smile.  Her outlook on life is contagiously optimistic, and yet she has seen some very tough times in her life.
    It all began in 1959 when Miss Margie was reading in bed.  She dozed off, and the book fell forward and hit her on the chest.  She awakened with a start, and, in rubbing the sore place, discovered a lump in her breast.  Miss Margie’s mother had had breast cancer, and a tense 3 day wait followed her biopsy.  “They had to send the tissue off to a lab in New Orleans because there was none nearer.”  The diagnosis: breast cancer.  “I felt Someone Up There was really taking care of me,” Miss Margie said about her unusually early lump discovery.
    In 1959, the only treatment available to breast cancer patients was a radical mastectomy, which involves not only removing the breast, but also all the lymph nodes extending under the arm.  Miss Margie’s surgery was so radical it required a skin graft and left her permanently scarred.  This lovely lady, however, was not one to wallow in self -pity.  Instead, after moving from Central to Bay St. Louis in 1982, Miss Margie volunteered to help the local hospital in its outreach program to cancer victims.  She would take packages of information and helpful items to women who had just undergone surgery for breast cancer.  “It made me feel so good,” Miss Margie remembered, “they were so excited to talk to someone who had had a mastectomy.”  She also helped with the hospital’s Relay for Life efforts, and found herself speaking in front of groups about the importance of early discovery.  “I persuaded 3 women who were not going to get mammograms to go get them.  Two of them discovered they had cancer.”  
    Hurricane Katrina changed the course of her life again.  “I’m a victim,” said Miss Margie with a wink and a smile, looking not at all like one.  Again, instead of feeling sorry for herself after losing her entire house (“only the staircase was left”), Miss Margie pulled up roots and returned to Central.  Here she has poured herself into the Susan G Komen Foundation, speaking about early detection and supporting every Race for the Cure.  Last year her efforts on behalf of cancer treatment were rewarded when she was crowned Queen of the Race for the Cure.  
    What really makes all of this even more amazing?  Miss Margie is 93 years old.  In love with life, she offers the following advice to those fighting cancer, “Hang in there, and think positively!”  When asked what message she would like people to hear, she responded, “Make sure you do self- examinations and get early mammograms.  Don’t wait until you think something’s wrong!”
Photo:  Margie Welsh, a resident of Central, was honored last October at the 
Susan G. Komen’s Survivor Luncheon.  She was named “Queen Survivor” and was given the award for the longest survivor (51 years).