Mari Martin shares The Power of Knowing how to Work Together to Make it Through the Crisis of Cancer

Kimberly Hartke Interviews Mari Martin, author of Come Home Alive –The Power of Knowing how to Work Together to Make it Through the Crisis of Cancer. Mari and her husband Chris are business consultants and coaches, and use the Kolbe self-assessment tool in their work. The Kolbe tool enabled them to determine how each of them can communicate, assign tasks and thrive in spite of their health crisis. Today, I would like to share my recent interview with Mari about her book.

Who was your book written for? And, who do you hope will also read it?

I wrote the book for 4 reasons

-to give cancer patients a sense of hope, you can make it through, you can come home, come out alive

-for caregivers, written from a caregivers perspective, thank them for tireless efforts

-for relationships, when a loved one is going thru a tough patch, how do you keep the relationship together

-HPV virus education, as there is not enough talk about this

What were the first steps you took upon receiving a stage 3-4 throat cancer diagnosis?

1-Go and Vomit

2-We believe in power of prayer, let people know we wanted supporters and intercessors around us

3-Go off and play, to create a distraction, diversion

Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

The first diagnosis, we handled it well. We trusted the doctor, and who he referred us to. We called them our home team. We didn’t want to relocate. We wanted to stay at home in our own bed every night, so we chose not to go to a far-away cancer center.

Mari D. Martin, Author

What is the most important thing you want to relay to the spouse or loved one of a cancer patient?

Love your spouse no matter what. Focus on the love you have between the two of you. Focus on what brought you together.  My husband taught me how to eat escargot. Focus on the shared memories. So you can make it through a pretty fallow period. We found ourselves eating escargot during the treatment. During the course of treatment we recreated the memories.

I know you used your faith, business acumen, and Kolbe training to navigate this illness. What personal qualities or virtues also got you through it?

I am very flexible, came up with ideas (let’s try this or that), resilient, don’t take things too personally. There were times when he was disagreeable. He lost weight, he survived on a feeding tube. I assisted him in getting adequate nutrition through the tube. My love grew deeper as I had to care for him.

There was always going to be a point of disagreement. He is strong willed and not willing to give up. Men want to not show their vulnerable side. I believe cancer patients, especially men, need to be vulnerable so they can accept help.

What strains on the marriage did you experience, if any?

The illness puts strain on the relationship. Our Kolbe training enabled us to understand one another.

He wanted to go out for Valentine’s Day, because he wanted to give me a Valentines present. He was really in no shape to do so. I didn’t need it but had to let him take me out. It was very important to him.

How have you grown through this process?

My faith has grown tremendously. We received a miracle. God came through for us. I can now set aside my own needs my control issues and give it over to Jesus. I still want to fix things, but I need to give some over to my husband.

How is your husband doing now?

Mari and Chris after the Cancer Treatment

Two weeks after I turned in my manuscript to the publisher, he got a second diagnosis of the same cancer. This time around he had to have surgery to get his voice box removed. Thanks to the surgery, he is now free of cancer.

His new mountain to climb is learning to talk through his new airway with an implant. He is working very hard to get his speech back. Since he is a former radio broadcaster it is very important to him.

Currently he uses a white board to aid in communication.

A familiar listener can understand him, but others have more trouble understanding him.

In the process of this disappointing setback,  I had to read page and chapter of my own book for encouragement. It was a cruel blow.

It is like climbing Mt Everest. You to do it with a team member. You have to have a team mate. You need to watch for the invisible and listen for the unheard. Then you need to have enough energy to get back down the mountain.

Are there any alternative health strategies you implemented alongside the conventional treatments or after the conventional treatments?

Yes we used two, our awareness of our Kolbe results. How I could minimize tasks and situations that he needed to do that forced him to operate against his grain.

He also used acupuncture to address dryness in his mouth. He is a trend-setter. His acupuncture treatment was done by a research group affiliated with a local hospital. There were a lot of articles about throat cancer.

One of the cool things that happened was a friend of mine gave this book to another throat cancer patient. He was experiencing the same dryness as a result of radiation treatment. After reading my book, he sought out help from an acupuncturist and I think it made a positive impact.

Do you find people eager to learn about working your way through cancer treatment—do you now find others seeking you out for advice?

I am helping several people 10 or 12 who feel they can trust me. They are trying to keep their diagnosis private, but they feel they can trust me. They want an intellectual conversation, they want to get down to brass tacks. I am helping them focus on what they need to do for themselves. Whatever the treatment that is prescribed by their doctor, I am helping them find how do they make it more effective for themselves.

What are you doing to promote your book?

I have a couple of strategies to get the book out.

The National Football League (NFL) is launching a new campaign called The Crucial Catch. It promotes Early Screening to find cancers early when they are most treatable. I sent them a copy of the book, hoping it will be a resource to the campaign.

I am also reaching out to some of the largest churches in the U.S. – I understand some churches are already using it as a book study, I am hoping more will make it available to their members as a resource for cancer support.

Where can my readers buy the book or learn more about it?

See my website, the book is also available on Barnes and Noble, Target.

Kimberly Hartke is a homemaker and a health and wellness blogger.