Relay Champions is a special series The Yadkin Ripple is included in the month leading up to Yadkin Relay For Life’s event on May 10 at Starmount High School. The series will feature the stories of Relay For Life participants who have survived cancer, lost a loved one to cancer, or those who have acted as caregivers for a loved one with cancer.
Becky Marquis dreamed of the day she would meet her knight in shining armor and live the fairytale romance she had dreamed of.
She achieved that dream, but cancer would steal that fairytale from her and her children by taking the man she had waited her whole life for.
“On the night of March 31, 1998, this guy walked into the video store where I was working. I was in awe. … He was my dream come true,” Marquis said.
Later that year the couple packed up and moved to Mack’s hometown in Maine, and they were married in July 1999. They welcomed their first daughter in December of 1999 and their second daughter in September of 2001.
“We had it all, we were crazy about each other and we had two beautiful girls,” Marquis said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. Our life was amazing.”
In January 2004 their fairytale would take a dark turn. Mack sustained an injury when he fell off a ladder at work. With no medical insurance, Mack just made a trip into the emergency room where he was given pain medications and sent home. His pain continued for weeks despite the medication.
He decided to make a trip to the family doctor and follow-up. That doctor said he should be fine with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and some time to heal.
“By late February, he had lost 40 pounds, with no explanation of why,” Marquis said. “By March he still hurt, was still on pain meds, was still going to the OMT, and every night he was running a fever of 105 and having horrible night sweats. I had no clue what to do. The doctor acted like it was nothing; he just kept writing the scripts for pain meds and making his next appointment for his visit with the OMT.”
His nighttime fevers, night sweats and chronic itching would send Mack to the emergency room in the middle of the night, but Marquis said that doctors would list him as a drug seeker and send him home.
By September 2004 Mack had been out of work for most of the year, and with no sign of relief for his pain or diagnosis of his symptoms he began struggling with depression.
“He felt incompetent at his role as husband and father; he felt like he was letting us down,” Marquis said.
He asked his doctor for something to help with his depression. A therapist ordered an MRI to prove to Mack that there was nothing physically wrong with him and to commit him to a 30-day evaluation in a psychiatric hospital.
On Sept. 29, 2004 the doctor called Mack and told him to come in immediately for the results of his MRI.
“He sat there in his office and apologized to us. He said that he was wrong, that Mack was very sick,” Marquis said. “He said that he was making an appointment for Mack at the local cancer center. After more tests, they let us know that Mack had Stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
Mack was started on chemotherapy immediately. They decided not to tell the girls about Mack’s diagnosis because they were so young they didn’t want to scare them. They decided to tell them that daddy’s blood was sick.
Marquis had to jump into caregiver mode for her children and now for her husband. She couldn’t work because caregiver was her full-time job. She made sure Mack made it to all of his appointments, maintained his diet, took his meds and that her daughters continued to live life as normal.
“I kept the girls in gymnastics, swim lessons, and they played soccer so their life was as normal as it could be,” Marquis said. “I tried to keep up regular normal life too; grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, keeping a budget without jobs, paying bills, scheduling the girls and my regular check ups, dentist appointments, keeping a schedule of all his doctor appointments, making sure I had all his meds on hand and so much more.”
Mack continued on chemo for several years and underwent two bone marrow transplants. By the second transplant Becky and Mack knew they had to start preparing their daughters for the worst. They finally shared that he had cancer and told them that he would die.
The family will always remember a two-week family vacation before July 3, 2007, when Mack awoke to his eighth wedding anniversary and unbearable illness.
Becky tried to take him to the emergency room, but he refused to go and insisted that she take the children on their planned July 4 festivities. By that night he had to be taken to the hospital and was rushed to his transplant doctor in Boston to try to find a solution.
“Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital in Boston, Mack was unable to breathe on his own,” Marquis said. “He was intubated, and he was put into a medical induced coma. Mack’s body started shutting down. His blood pressure wouldn’t stay up. His kidneys stopped working properly. Everything was just giving out.”
Marquis realized that she was going to lose her prince charming. She struggled to remain strong for her daughters.
“July 17, 2007 was the worst day of my life,” Marquis said. “I took my two baby girls into that hospital room to say goodbye to their daddy. That is something that no mother should have to do.
“They each gave him a kiss on the cheek and we left the room,” Marquis continued. “Later that night the doctor shut off all the machines, and at 6:31 p.m. my soul mate was gone. His battle was over, and he didn’t have to fight anymore.”
Marquis said that Relay has given her the opportunity to help find a cure so that no other family will have to endure what her family has.
“I participate in Relay so that one day little girls won’t have to sit in their daddy’s lap while he gets chemo. So that one day little girls won’t have to see their daddy get sick after chemo treatments.
“So that one day little girls won’t have to wait for weeks for their Daddy to get back home from a bone marrow transplant. And one day little girls won’t have to know that their daddy is going to die of cancer.”
Yadkin County Relay For Life will host its event on May 10 at Starmount High School starting at 6 p.m. This is an overnight event and the public is encouraged to attend. To learn more visit www.facebook.com/YadkinCountyRelay.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.