Marie Mason usually leads a team from Second Baptist Church of Starkville to help raise money for the American Cancer Society through the Oktibbeha County Relay For Life. She loves it. She is passionate about leading by example and giving back. Mason said if people can see that she can keep moving forward with a good attitude, it may give others hope.
She quotes her favorite Bible verse, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” from Proverbs 18:14.
“I love going and doing something worthwhile,” Mason said about Relay for Life. “It is important to keep moving forward.”
“Marie is a true inspiration,” said Caleb Rich, one of the organizers for the 2017 Oktibbeha County Relay for Life. “She has always been a person who put other’s needs before her own. Her leadership as the team captain for the Second Baptist Church team inspired the team to step up in a big way for her as she’s been going through treatment again. Marie Mason is truly the heart of what Relay for Life is about.”
And even though Mason did not lead a team this year, many volunteers in Oktibbeha County dedicated this year’s Relay for Life in her honor. As usual, she was there, but not leading a team. For Mason, this year has been reminiscent of a time 24 years ago, when she first discovered breast cancer.
She was 43 when her cancer journey began. Mason found a small tumor while taking a shower. She had a mastectomy and had a round or two of chemotherapy. It wasn’t long until she was a cancer survivor.
And for 24 years, Mason has been careful and mindful of her health. But in April of this year, she woke up one morning and noticed swelling on her left side. It was odd. The next day, the swelling was worse.
“I called the doctor because it was so unusual,” Mason said. “I may be a little extra cautious, but it was the right thing to do.”
They drained some of the fluid building up on her left side and sent it for tests. Mason said the doctor indicated it was “not negative, but there were questionable cells.” A biopsy followed, but before the results were back, Mason found the small tumor during a breast self-exam in the shower. She could not find it at first because of all of the swelling. She tested positive for cancer.
Luckily, surgery to remove the malignant tumor was successful and she is cancer-free. Because the tumor was so aggressive, Mason is taking preventative chemotherapy treatments with Baptist Memorial Hospital in Starkville. She is at the half-way point of six chemo treatments every three weeks.
There are a lot of lessons learned during the course of a cancer journey. For Mason,
· “You better keep a good check on yourself.” Mason said if something odd goes on more than three days, she is at the doctor’s office getting it checked out.
· “Keep a good attitude.” Mason said she works hard to keep her spirits up. She stays in and rests when she needs to, but she is out and going again in no time.
· “Having a good religious background helps.” Mason said she “knows the Lord will take care of” her in every situation, including cancer. Her friends and family at Second Missionary Baptist Church of Starkville have been so good to her and incredibly supportive.
Rev. Joseph Stone of Second Baptist Church said Marie Mason is “the epitome of what the Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans 8:37, ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’”
“She is not just a survivor,” Stone said. “She is not just a conqueror. She is more than that. She is a ‘liver’; no, not the internal organ but she is a person that lives. She doesn’t just exist she lives.”
Stone said Mason refuses to allow cancer or any other thing to stop her from living.
“They may slow her down, may make her cry, may make her ill, and they most certainly try her faith; yet in spite of, she lives,” Stone said. “She lives with a courageous spirit that blesses all that come into contact with her. As her pastor, I find encouragement, strength, faith, kindness, and love in her demonstrated through her selfless service to others.”
See this story in the Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017 edition of The Starkville Daily News.