Martin shares cancer story with students

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2012


Pleasant Home teacher Cindy Martin is a two-time cancer survivor, and she’s taking her story to her students.

Martin was first diagnosed with a 6-centimeter ductal carcinoma in January 1998.

“I discovered it when my, now ex-husband, suggested I give our daughter, age 16, a lesson in self-breast exam,” she said. “I’d had a complete physical in November and there was no sign of a lump. Dr. Maddox sent me for a mammogram, and Dr. Tomberlin said it was a cyst.”

Maddox called her with the news and said it should be aspirated.

“When he tried to aspirate the lump, it didn’t feel right to him, so he had it tested and called me with the bad news,” she said. “I had surgery, chemo – six rounds of Adriamycin, Cytoxan and 5Fu – and 36 rounds of radiation.”

Martin’s second cancer diagnosis came in August 2004.

“It was a smaller lump, and most importantly, a new cancer, not metastasis,” she said. “Again, I had surgery, three rounds of Adriamycin, Cytoxan, 12 rounds of Taxal and 36 radiation treatments.”

About a year ago, Martin had a DNA test and discovered she has the breast cancer gene, she said.

Martin said her cancer experiences have brought her in contact, with “a lot of really amazing people.”

“I’ve shared my experience as often as possible in hopes that it will help someone else,” she said. “I even share it with my students.

“Eventually, you’re going to know someone who has cancer or you’re going to get it yourself,” she said. “We’ve watched Johnny Powell over the past year, and it’s had an affect on many of the students. I tend to share too much, but this has been a huge chunk of my life.

“I had a daughter that was their age when I had cancer the first time,” she said. “I was only 34. I want them to know that young people can get cancer, and you can get past it.”

Besides sharing her experiences with her students, Martin took the cancer education one step further in February when she took them to the cancer center in Andalusia, as part of a character education project.

Sophomores at PHS gathered snacks and hats to take to the center.

PHS student Corey Self said that going to the cancer center was a “pretty good experience. It showed us what they went through. I thought it was like a cat scan, but it’s not at all.”

“It really makes you realize just how fragile life is,” said Carl Whitehurst. “I didn’t know how painful treatments were for them.”

Many of the students have been touched by cancer.

Evan Arnett said he didn’t go with his class to the cancer center because his grandmother passed away in 2007 from cancer.

“I had seen it and I didn’t want to go back to it,” he said.

Mallorie Smithart’s grandmother is a cancer survivor.

Ashtyn Thomasson said her mother passed away at 31 from lung cancer in 2009.

Martin said now that she’s a survivor, she works to help those who are battling cancer.

“Now, I do my best to be there to give comfort and encouragement when someone I know has cancer,” she said. “And there are a lot of people I know with this illness.”

Martin has three daughters: Crissy, Courtney and Cari.