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Wilmot Stories

Beth Marsh

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Beth Marsh remembers how much she hurt that night in January 2005 when she was bowling with her friends. She was 15-and-a-half years old, and she thought she might be coming down with the flu. But the pain was different and only got worse. It felt like there was something inside her bones trying to break them apart.

Within a day, she learned it was acute lymphocytic leukemia.

“It was such a foreign thing to me,” says Beth, who only knew older people with cancer. “This wasn’t something that happened to kids.”

She underwent two difficult years of treatment that included heart problems and other complications. With her parents and sister by her side, she went on the rollercoaster ride of feelings that comes with a life-threatening diagnosis, and she learned some valuable lessons about herself and life.

In 2014, Beth became the Adolescent/Young Adult Survivorship Coordinator at Wilmot Cancer Institute. She connects with patients ages 13 to 29 when they are diagnosed and follows them through treatment and into survivorship.

She shares the perspective that she gained during her own experience with cancer and navigating life after treatment.

“Survivorship is more than just getting through something,” Beth says. “It’s about living with change. Nothing stays the same forever, and that’s a good thing.”

“It was such a foreign thing to me,” says Beth, who only knew older people with cancer. “This wasn’t something that happened to kids.”