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Marilyn Norris: 'Cancer is not the end'

Breast cancer survivor Marilyn Norris is doing more than just surviving. She continues to actively fight the battle against breast cancer by participating in fundraising, educational and supportive events for the disease.

Because of her family history of cancer, Ms. Norris said she began routine screenings years ago, and one of those mammograms revealed "a mass" in her breast that turned out to be cancer.

Then 35, Ms. Norris said she immediately made up her mind to survive for her two children.

"My doctor told me that cancer is not the end for a lot of people. ... She talked to me about having a will to live," Ms. Norris said. "So, I just took it from there. I've been motivated thus forward to help the fight against breast cancer."

This past July, Ms. Norris held a Survivors Night of Fashion at the Thomson-McDuffie Leisure Center. The gala, featuring survivors modeling fashions and entertainment by the Fort Gordon Youth Challenge Academy, brought approximately 200 people to hear Ms. Norris speak about breast cancer.

Rather than talking about the cause, Ms. Norris did a lot of walking last October when she participated in the three-day, 60-mile Breast Cancer Walk in Atlanta. The Thomson resident walked with over 2,000 others, all dressed out in pink, to raise money and awareness about the disease.

"It's sort of emotional, because you see kids out there whose mother has died, husbands whose wives have died and people that lost their family members. And they are actually standing on the side of the road motivating you, giving you water, that kind of thing. It's great, but it's really emotional," she said.

Ms. Norris said they walked "all over Atlanta," and slept in a camp of pink tents each night. Each walker wears a pink and white tutu. The pink ribbons on the tutu bear the names of breast cancer survivors, and the white ribbons have the names of "breast cancer angels."

"It's a powerful experience," Ms. Norris said, adding that she met many breast cancer survivors, including some males who suffered from the disease. "I know one thing, at the end, you are finished. That's it."

Because her mother recently had to undergo treatment for bladder cancer, Ms. Norris said she had to slow down her fund-raising efforts for this year's walk. Each walker must raise or pay $2,200 to walk in the event. If she is unable to raise the full amount, Ms. Norris said she will donate her funds to her friend, Adele Holifield of Grovetown, who also walks in the event.

"So, it will still go to the cause," she said.

Ms. Norris advocates having mammograms and exams on a regular basis, especially if there is a family history of cancer. For more information about the Atlanta walk, visit Ms. Norris' website at

Web posted on Thursday, October 02, 2008

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