When Marilyn Gatlin was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2006, she was caring for her mother who also had breast cancer. They cared for each other until her mother died two years later.
Marilyn’s life wasn’t easy during this time. She describes the care she received at local Houston hospitals where she had surgery and chemotherapy as ‘cold.’ She found it difficult to work through treatment and complications caused by diabetes. She lost her job because of time away from work.
“But God don’t like ugly,” she says. “I started going to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital for my follow-up care. I had my radiation at MD Anderson, through Harris Health System.”
Things changed for her at LBJ. “They sit and listen to you. I always take a folder with me to appointments and ask questions. The people at LBJ give me answers. Their hearts are in it. Everybody there—doctors, nurses—are nice and sincere.
“Some people think Harris Health System is only for poor people. They have the wrong idea.”
She took advantage of everything LBJ has to offer. She participated in support groups and attended classes. “I went through the hospital’s Living after Breast Cancer program. They encourage us to exercise and stay active, to take care of ourselves.”
Marilyn has plenty of advice for other women who are faced with breast cancer: “Take a friend with you to the doctor’s appointment. Get a second opinion. Get good information; don’t just depend on the Internet. If you have to cry, cry – get it out of your system. Go to support groups. It helps to be with other women who are going through the same thing,” she says.