Marcellina George enjoys winning medals for games well-played — gold, silver and bronze. She prefers gold.
It came as no surprise to the people who know Marcellina best that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a winning attitude. She wasn’t surprised that a mammogram revealed a lump. She had already felt it.
“I’m not ashamed or embarrassed,” she says. “I didn’t shop for cancer. I never asked The Man ‘why?’ Everything happens for a reason. God takes care of me. The doctors take care of me. I’m in good hands.”
She had surgery and chemotherapy at Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. Later, she had radiation. “The nurses at LBJ are like family. They tell you what to expect. I pass it on to people I meet in the waiting rooms, ‘You have nothing to worry about. The nurses will take care of you.’ The doctors give me warm comfort.”
Marcellina learned that two of her sisters in the Virgin Islands had dealt with breast cancer, but didn’t talk about it. “I visited Saint Lucia so people wouldn’t think I was dying. My family was surprised to see me looking so bright.
“The way I look at life is to take it one day at the time. I don’t rush life. When my hair fell out, my family liked it, so I keep it short now. Cancer isn’t the end of life. Just keep doing what you need to do.”
Marcellina, who is retired after cooking at a Kettle restaurant for 28 years, walks three miles every day. She walked even during her chemo treatments. A nurse told her to keep moving, so she did. She also rides a bike and eats a healthier diet. Her attitude hasn’t changed; it’s just been enhanced.
It was during recuperation from surgery that her son bought Marcellina an iPad. He didn’t want her to be bored. “She took to it,” he says. “She’s very competitive.”
She agrees. Once she gets her chores done, she grabs the iPad and games with cyberspace acquaintances. She plays Diamond Dash, Bingo Blingo and Mr. Giggles, but she’s hooked on Candy Crush. “If I see someone passing my score, I work harder.” She isn’t satisfied unless she takes the gold.