Marshall Moneymaker, a 44 year old Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Firefighter in Maryland is the 2011 Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure® Co-Survivor of the Year.
Words from his wife: Shannon Moneymaker
Marshall Moneymaker lost three sisters to breast cancer. His oldest sister Vicky was the first to be diagnosed. She was diagnosed at stage 4 and passed away in February 2008. Vicky convinced her sister, Valessa, to get checked. Valessa was diagnosed at stage 3 and although she successfully beat breast cancer the first time, she lost her battle when it returned and metastasized to her bones and stomach. She passed away in September 2010. Vicky and Valessa both ganged up on the third sister, Penny, and insisted that she get checked. Despite early detection, she was diagnosed at Stage 1, and passed away a few years later after the cancer metastasized to her lungs, bones, brain, and liver. She passed away in June 2010. While his sisters were going through chemotherapy and radiation, Marshall did all he could to show his sisters that they were loved. As a matter of fact, he and I moved his sister Penny into our home as soon as we found out that she needed the extra support. Marshall ran errands, drove to appointments, and did anything and everything he possibly could to make the girls feel loved and respected. After Vicky passed away, Marshall continued to focus his energies on Penny and Valessa. As Penny began to decline, Marshall quickly focused his efforts to Penny. You see, Penny raised Marshall growing up. Without Penny, Marshall would not be the person he is today. Watching Penny decline was devastating for Marshall – almost too much for him to handle. But he stayed by her side nonetheless. After Penny died, there was very little left inside him. It pained me to tell him that his sister Valessa would not be far behind. Sure enough, three months later, Valessa passed away. Marshall was empty. A few weeks after Valessa passed away, the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure set up a pit stop in the parking lot of his firehouse. Marshall, just thinking he’d offer to lift a few boxes, went outside and was instantly swept up by women clad in pink and life as he knew it changed – forever.
Marshall began his journey to healing with the help of men and women, wearing tutus, pink bras, and fuchsia wigs! He had no idea he was broken until he experienced the joys and love of survivorship and sisterhood through the “pink community”. Marshall now spends every moment he can motivating and inspiring men and women to take another step in their own journeys. It could be a journey of healing, a journey of giving, a journey of support, it doesn’t matter. His efforts come in all shapes and sizes. He often appears at walks or fundraisers wearing pink from head to toe! I’m especially proud of the awareness he’s brought to his fire department. Fellow fire fighters are making efforts to have pink uniform shirts approved and to even secure a pink fire truck to help raise community awareness. He was recently awarded a set of pink fire fighting protective gear and helmet to applaud his efforts! It even made it all over the news!
I guess what I am proud of the most is that Marshall has turned a very sad, tragic situation into a very positive contribution for the breast cancer community. As he has told me often “I may have lost three sisters to breast cancer, but good Lord did I gain hundreds more because of breast cancer.” He treasures every interaction with every person he meets. He welcomes every opportunity to speak to people, motivate people, and make them smile. I honestly believe, from the bottom of my heart, that Marshall will spend a lifetime “doing what he does” for the breast cancer community to make up for not being able to save his three sisters. He will never get them back, but God only knows he will keep doing what he does to make up for it. I couldn’t think of a person more deserving of your co-survivor of the year award. Read more stories of inspiration
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