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‘Are you going to be okay, mommy?’

After finding out she had breast cancer, one mother is championing an initiative for awareness

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Markeeta Morrow remembers everything fading around her. She was on the phone at work and was told by her primary care physician she had cancer.

The 34-year-old mother of three was diagnosed August 2021.

It was stage two triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer, which is more prominent in women of color.

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“I make sure I’m doing everything that ladies are supposed to do with their bodies, and so I’ve always done my breast checks at home. One day I found a lump very close to my underarm on my left side,” Morrow said.

She initially thought it might be changes in her body since she was getting older, didn’t want to assume this. So, she made a doctor’s appointment.

“I was young, and I felt like at that age, that isn’t something you’re looking for. I’d do the exams, but that was just out of routine for what I’ve been taught. I never expected to find something, and I never expected it to be cancer,” Morrow said.

When she was diagnosed, Morrow’s youngest child was only one year old. Her oldest son is on the autism spectrum.

Markeeta had to tell her children she had cancer

“I was scared to tell him because I didn’t know if he was going to fully understand what it was that I was telling him. I like to keep kids innocent and not put too much on them and knowing that your mom has cancer is a lot to put on a child,” Morrow said.

She was scared, but she sat her oldest down to talk to him. She told him she would be home more because she was sick.

Morrow told him there were going to be some changes with mommy. She may not be as energetic or happy. The way she looks is going to change too because she is going to lose her hair.

“I just need your help a little bit around the house and helping me with your little brothers. They all just looked at me and asked, ‘Are you going to be okay, mommy?’” Morrow said.

That was the question she posed to doctors at the Community Health Network: Was she going to live?

The doctors could not say yes, and they could not say no.

The good news was that they caught it early.

Markeeta’s promoting a pledge

“I didn’t care too much about being sick or losing my hair, I just wanted to make sure I was going to be around for my children,” Morrow said, “I would come in and see a lot of older people. I felt like, you know what, if they can do this, I can do it too.”

While at Community East, she said medical professionals were very hands-on with her treatment plan. The chemotherapy was the hardest part, but over time the therapy worked to rid Morrow’s body of the cancer.

“To be able to finally ring the bell and have the nurses and the doctors celebrate with me was such a great feeling,” Morrow said.

The Community Health Network created the Commit to One pledge for breast cancer awareness. Using Morrow’s story, they are encouraging women under 40 to commit to completing one breast exam a month.

Women can pick a day several days after their period ends when breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender.

If a woman no longer has periods, she can choose a day that is easy to remember.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PLEDGE HERE

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON

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