A story of hope and survival: Marilyn Doyle

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

Story written by Ronny Michel.  Each Saturday in the month of October, L’OBSERVATEUR will bring you a Breast Cancer Awareness story of hope and survival.

Marilyn Doyle was 43 years old when slight discomfort led her to the doctor and ultimately her first mammogram. Within days she was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer, had a mastectomy, and had 17 lymph nodes removed. She was released from the hospital on Mother’s Day 1998.

“The doctor told me that unless I did everything he said, I’d be dead by Christmas,” Doyle said. The protocol included 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 40 days of radiation, a bone marrow transplant, then 12 treatments of chemotherapy with an experimental drug.

There was no question in her mind that she would follow the doctor’s orders. Doyle’s children were only six and four at the time. “I wanted to be there for my family, so I did what I had to get to get rid of the cancer,” she said.

Throughout the initial chemotherapy and radiation, Doyle continued to work. “The only time I missed work was when I had the bone marrow transplant,” Doyle said. “My mom still says, ‘You were on your deathbed and still training me to do your job.’”

But even during the most difficult time – the four days of continual chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant – Doyle was confident that she would survive.

During the 35 days she spent in the hospital for the transplant, friends and neighbors helped her husband care for their young children, and her sister spent every day at the hospital with her. The lengths Doyle went through to fight cancer and be there for were family were matched by her family’s commitment to her wellbeing.

Every October, she recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month by posting her experience on her social media page. “I never told a lot of people about the cancer at the time,” Doyle said. “But now see it as an opportunity to thank the people who helped me.”