Sometimes, cancer reveals itself in some pretty strange ways.

This was certainly the case for Marsleen Kerr, who was diagnosed in November of 2017.

Marsleen Kerr

“I had a wound on the side of my leg and I was in St. Charles at the wound doctor,” said Kerr. “They put me on the table to raise me up so they could look at my wound, and when they did I started feeling weird.”

At that point, Kerr’s pulse and blood pressure went haywire.

“I kept telling them that I felt like I was going to throw up,” said Kerr.

When medical staff lowered Kerr back down, her blood pressure and pulse once again went haywire.

Fortunately, Kerr was already right next door to St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles, so she was able to get to the emergency room very quickly.

After some tests had been performed, Kerr was visited by two doctors. 

One of those doctors told her that she had pneumonia.

The other informed her that she had lung cancer.

“I was shocked,” said Kerr. “I just sat there looking at both of them with my mouth hanging open.”

Further testing performed in December of 2017 confirmed the diagnosis of cancer, which was in Kerr’s right lung.

Later that same month Kerr began receiving radiation treatments at an SSM facility in St. Charles.

Kerr said she has no clear memory of just how long the radiation lasted, but knows that she endured it for at least eight weeks.

Several weeks into that radiation therapy, Kerr’s doctors also added chemotherapy to her treatment plan.

Kerr received both forms of treatment simultaneously for a number of weeks, and she said she attributes the chemotherapy to the memory loss that she is currently battling.

Kerr said that she derived great benefit from living in Elsberry during her battle with cancer.

“If I lived in another town, they probably wouldn’t even know I existed,” said Kerr. “Elsberry really cares about me, and I appreciate that.”

The community raised funds for Kerr and her family through a “Donkey Basketball” event shortly after her battle began, and she said she still receives cards and messages from people who tell her that they are praying for her.

“Elsberry is my life,” said Kerr. “I was born and raised here, and the people are just wonderful.”

Kerr no longer receives radiation treatments, but is administered an intravenous drug called OPDIVO  every four weeks.

She has now received two of those treatments, and she said she couldn’t possibly feel any better than she currently does.

“I feel great,” said Kerr. “My doctors and nurses all tell me that I am doing better than most people who come to them for treatment.”

Kerr said she has battled arthritis for some time now, but otherwise her movements are not restricted, she has not suffered any sickness from the radiation or chemotherapy, she is not confined to bed, and she is free to come and go as she pleases, although she does find herself staying home more often lately.

That aside, Kerr said she is aware that her cancer is not operable.

“I don’t think they expect it to ever go away completely,” said Kerr. “It was shrinking at one time, then it started to grow again. Now it is just holding steady.”

Kerr said she doesn’t know what the future holds in terms of her health, but she never finds herself feeling anxious about it.

“I don’t worry about anything,” said Kerr. “Other people worry about me, but I don’t.”

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