A breast cancer advocate and survivor, Liz Morrow embraces all things pink.
Originally from St. Louis County, Morrow came to Jefferson City to attend Lincoln University, where she's now employed as the student resource director.
Despite eight rounds of chemo, surgery and radiation treatment, Morrow always tried her best to keep living her best life. She enjoys reading, singing karaoke, traveling, being pampered and spending time with good company. A proud survivor, Morrow is involved with cancer support groups at Goldschmidst Cancer Center, The Boost Foundation, the Sam B. Cook Healthplex and Dreams To Reality.
In honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Morrow, along with three other area survivors, shared some of their journey battling breast cancer. Read a different woman's story each week this month in the Health section, colored pink in celebration.
The following answers have been edited for clarity and space constraints:
Q. Explain your diagnosis and treatment. How are you now?
A. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer on Dec. 5, 2017. I was 50 years old.
My treatments consisted of eight rounds of aggressive chemo, a lumpectomy surgery on my right breast with 10 lymph nodes being removed with two of them being positive, and 30 rounds of radiation treatments. Currently, I'm on an anastrozole, which is a chemo pill.
I'm feeling great now; I'm just learning to start to love to live life again.
Q. How did you feel when you first heard the news?
A. I was shocked and surprised because I was healthy and working out in the gym daily. On top of this, I had no signs, symptoms or lumps, and cancer was not in my family. I was the first to be diagnosed.
Q. What were some of the obstacles you faced? How did you overcome them?
A. Since I didn't experience any pain through any of my treatments, I will say that the hardest obstacle I was faced was telling the students of Lincoln University that their assistant dean of students was diagnosed with breast cancer during their final exam week.
I overcame this obstacle by addressing everything through social media after finals had ended for the students. Additionally, I allowed them to see my journey through all of my Facebook Live posts. Yes, I went public with my breast cancer journey for all of the world to see. After I heard my diagnosis while I was sitting in my doctor's office and after a few tears, I was lead to share this journey with everyone who I came into contact with for the sake of awareness.
Q. What was your support system like, and how important is that in the process?
A. My support system was overwhelming and amazing. I had so many people who reaching out that I had to put people on a waitlist and/or give them a raincheck. I even gained a mentor through social media, Tammy Dunn, who recently lost her fight when her cancer returned during COVID-19. I honor her and her fight. I also gained a mentee, Dorlita Adams, and many other Pink Sisters — there's far too many to name. They know who they are.
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My family is very spiritual, loving, caring and supportive. They traveled to be here in Jefferson City with me for all of my major appointments and treatments. Additionally, I also have a fur baby named Olivia who loved me through it all.
It's very important to have a support group while you are fighting for your life. They are there to fight with you.
Q. Were there any community programs or services you used that were particularly beneficial?
A. Yes, I utilized the programs at Goldschmidst Cancer Center (Ensure drinks, educational classes and books), the American Cancer Society (The Feel Good Program, free hats and a wig — even though I decided to embrace my beauty by rocking my bald hairstyle), and anything else I was eligible to receive. I was fortunate enough to go on FMLA and still be able to work during my treatments.
Q. What message would you like to provide to women in the community who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or about breast health in general?
A. I would like to tell them a breast cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Don't allow cancer to change you. Early detection is best; please do your self-examinations, and please get your mammograms regularly.
This story was updated at 10:20 a.m. Oct. 12, 2021, to correct Liz Morrow's title at Lincoln University.