Showing strength and positivity through the toughest battles

GRAFTON—October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, the perfect time to feature a story on Martha Hawkins.  Hawkins is currently fighting breast cancer for the second time, but she hasn’t let that slow her down.

Hawkins was first diagnosed in February 2018 with stage three breast cancer.  After responding well to the treatment of a lumpectomy, radiation and oral chemo, she was cancer free.

Unfortunately, in August she was diagnosed with breast cancer again, this time stage four metastatic. 

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs in the body.

The cancer has spread to her lymph nodes and bones. 

“I will always have this, I won’t go into remission,” explained Hawkins. 

Hawkins started a clinical trial seven weeks ago.

“I’m doing the clinical trial because someone will learn from it.  Whatever the outcome, someone will learn something from it,” said Hawkins of her decision.

Hawkins has worked through both bouts of cancer.  Hawkins says that it has kept her motivated and focused. 

Hawkins works at the Grafton City Hospital with Grafton Recovery Center, a substance abuse program.  Fueled with determination after losing a family member to a battle with substance abuse, she said that she has found it difficult at times but it’s something she has to do.

Taking their first patient in October 2019, the recovery center works with outpatient groups, individual therapy and medication assisted treatment. 

“It can be really discouraging work, so you have to have a passion for it,” said Hawkins.

She said that she is open with her patients about her condition.

“I’m open with them because sometimes I can’t be there, and they need to understand why. Trust and having a connection are very important to these patients,” said Hawkins. 

Hawkins explained that sometimes she and other cancer patients have trouble getting the pain medications that they need because of the abuse of the drugs by others. 

However, Hawkins said that if she can sit across from those patients struggling with abuse without judgement than everyone should be able to.

Hawkins still manages to come to work as often as she is physically able to, despite the sickness and pain.  She said that it was a hard lesson to ask for help.

“I did learn to ask for help, which is hard when you are used to being the helper,” she noted.

While she credits her family and friends for helping her get through her battle, she is also very thankful for her “work family” at GCH. 

She said that they have been some of her biggest cheerleaders, watching to make sure she isn’t overdoing it and leaving cards of encouragement on her desk.

“This is her second round of cancer, but she remains positive.  She is such an inspiration to me and others,” said coworker and friend Jessica Poling. 

Hawkins should definitely be an inspiration to everyone she encounters. Her determination to better the lives of others while fighting her own illness is nothing short of heroic. 

When asked what advice she would give others battling cancer, she says simply, “No matter what kind of a battle you are fighting - you have to be positive.  You have to focus on what you can control.”


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