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Tacoma newspaper columnist documenting her journey with cancer

Posted on Mar. 24, 2014 ( comments)
Kathleen Merryman

Longtime and much-loved Tacoma newspaper columnist Kathleen Merryman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, is documenting her treatment in a series of stories she calls, “The Lucky Woman's Guide to Breast Cancer.”

Though there is no good kind of cancer, Merryman explains, her cancer is the least bad, which is why she describes herself as lucky.

“I will have an occasionally unpleasant walk through it, and I'll survive,” she wrote in her column that runs in Tacoma Weekly.

In her most recent update on Facebook, Merryman says: "Home from 4 days at TG, getting my white blood cells up to fighting strength. Great medical care, and lovely people. Mahalo TG!"

One reason she’s sharing her detailed story is to encourage others to be aware of their own health.

Merryman writes: “Dr. Virginia Stowell, Goddess of Boob Surgery and reader of The Tacoma Weekly, said that, no matter how much is written about breast cancer, more is better. When a friend gets it, people do their breast self-exams and schedule mammograms.

“So let's make a deal: Let me thank you in advance for your kind thoughts. Instead of putting them into words, point them at your own boobs. Do a breast self-exam. Set up a mammogram time. That'll make me happy, and it will keep you in touch with your breast health.”

Merryman said she’s seeing Dr. Virgina Stowell for surgery, Dr. Umesh Chitaley for chemotherapy, and Dr. Siraj Singh for radiation at MultiCare Regional Cancer Center in Tacoma.

“Man, have I lucked out?” Merryman said during a recent visit. “Drs. Stowell, Chitaley and Singh?! Total dream team.”

Merryman also received an outpouring of support from friends and the community.

Co-workers at Tacoma Weekly shaved their heads in solidarity, and Lincoln High School hosted a head-shaving event that raised more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society.

“Cancer is the news no one is quite prepared to get,” Merryman wrote. “It demands a reaction for which most of us have no reference point. All of a sudden, we're sloshing around in information, family stories and preconceptions that may or may not have anything to do with what we'll be fighting. … So, yes, when we get the news, we have no idea what's coming at us, or how we'll meet it, then deal with it.”

Posted in: Cancer

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