Laura Tanous-Marshall, at right, of Turner says her breast cancer diagnosis has a purpose. That purpose is to help others. She is shown with Patrick Dempsey at a fundraiser for Maine cancer programs. Submitted photo

TURNER — On Sept. 11, 2017, Laura Tanous-Marshall of Turner was diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma.

Breast cancer. 

Shortly after she was diagnosed, her best friend was diagnosed with a rare form of another type of cancer.  

The news wasn’t easy to swallow but almost from the beginning, she knew she would use her journey to help others.  

“I have a motto I live by: We are born not for ourselves but to help others,” she said. “Everybody reacts differently. Some people look at cancer and say, ‘This sucks’. For me, it was a wake-up call and it gave me a purpose. I decided I wanted to help other people with breast cancer.” 

After her diagnosis, Marshall began taking part in the Dempsy Challenge and Sugarloaf Charity Summit, fundraisers for various in-state cancer programs.   

She wanted to do something more personal. So, she decided to form a support group for those facing the disease.  

“When I was in treatment, I looked for a support group,” she said. “I found one in Lewiston but it was a 40-minute drive from my home. I wanted a place where people could come and talk about their diagnosis, treatment and journey. I wanted to give back.” 

The group meets Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. in the Turner Public Library, 98 Matthews Way.  

While the group is in its infancy, it is growing quickly, she said. 

“I really want the people from the Livermore and Livermore Falls side of Turner to know about it,” she said. “You don’t have to be from Turner to come. It’s just a matter of how far you want to travel.” 

Once a month, the group has a special speaker. “They are mostly cancer survivors who talk about what they are doing post-cancer,” she said. “Some people go through it and get on with their lives. Their journey can help someone who isn’t getting through it so easily.”

One thing Marshall is doing is matching support group participants with those facing the same diagnosis.  

“There are so many variations, each with its own treatment,” she said. “People who are far out from their diagnosis don’t really remember all the detailsI’ve encouraged them to research their diagnosis so they can be matched with someone who might be going through the same thing. 

I am HER2 positive. My treatment didn’t come out until 1998. I am really thankful it did.” 

HER2, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, is a gene that can play a factor in the development of breast cancer. 

Breast cancer can affect men, too, she pointed out. 

“We all have a revelation when we go through something like this,” she said. “The question is, do you listen to that revelation and do something about it or do you ignore it and just keep going,” she asked.  

This month, Marshall celebrates being two years cancer-free. The statistics are good that she will remain that way for years to come. 

“Everyone has their own beliefs,” she said. “Mine is God and I have faith in Him.”  

For more information about the support group, call Marshall at 346-4547 or private message her on Facebook.  

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