State Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix is fighting cancer and has a good prognosis, she said this week.
Marsh said she hopes sharing her experience reminds others to get regular health checkups and recommended cancer screenings. Her doctor was able to flag the cancer during a routine screening and scheduled surgery earlier this month, and identifying it quickly meant that she’s already been cleared for most activities.
“My doctor said flat out that had I waited a year or so this could have been disastrous, so I feel very fortunate,” she said. “I really want to make sure that people are taking care of those routine things that are really easy to put on the backburner when there’s a global pandemic happening.”
Marsh still needs follow-up chemotherapy, which she expects to finish in early December. She said she’s lucky that she gets to take it as an oral drug, meaning she’ll keep her hair and cancer won’t be the first thing constituents notice when she meets with them or returns to the campaign trail.
She’ll continue her work as a senator and plans to continue teaching, though she said she’s working with her principal to decide what makes the most sense for the school and her health. Chemo weakens patients’ immune systems, and Marsh teaches middle school, where not all students are eligible for Covid vaccinations yet because of their age.
Marsh said she’s keeping her spirits up, in part because she’s already lived through the worst experience a mother can have. Her son, Landon, died unexpectedly in 2020, and after losing a child everything else seems manageable, she said.
“No matter how rough things might get between now and the end of my chemo, it is not going to be half as hard as having lost Landon,” she said. “I feel in pretty decent spirits, all things considered.”
The cancer diagnosis renewed her drive to ensure every Arizonan has the same access to comprehensive health insurance and medical care that she does, Marsh said. Since her surgery nine days ago, she’s been focused on getting through each day, but she said she could envision future legislation or redoubled efforts to elect fellow Democrats and flip the state Legislature so they could pass existing bills to expand health care that die each year in the GOP-controlled House and Senate.