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Evansville patient says her multiple myeloma diagnosis is a ‘win-win’

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Evansville patient says her multiple myeloma diagnosis is a ‘win-win’

She has recorded her journey in photos with nurses, friends and patients. This woman says she believes there’s a purpose for her hospitalization at IU Health.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

If there was a day she was confined to her hospital room, Martha Garrett felt like she was missing out. She was missing her chats with other patients and nurses. She was missing what she thought was her purpose.

“I feel like I’ve gotten this diagnosis and God is taking me into a mission field,” said Garrett, 65. That diagnosis is multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. She is in the care of IU Health’s Dr. Rafat Abonour.

Martha Garrett on a bike ride with friend

Garrett’s diagnosis came in November 2022 when she felt pain in her upper scapula on the right side. An avid bike rider she thought the pain was from exercise. As it got worse, she went in for diagnostic testing and began induction therapy. She came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center for a stem cell transplant in early July.

“It’s much scarier than you think. I almost canceled but for me the apprehension was wasted energy. I realized that the people here are experts and know exactly what they are doing,” said Garrett.

“Dr. Abonour is highly impressive. It’s amazing that someone of his level of understanding of my disease is here where I have access to him. I have every confidence in the world in his abilities,” said Garrett, who was researching her disease and watching Dr. Abonour’s webinars before she ever met him.

During her recent hospital stay Garrett walked the hall with nurse Alicia Brault. When she returned to her room, Garrett snuggled up under a colorful blanket with the words, “Positivity,” “believe,” “love,” and “optimism.” The words were hints into Garrett’s personality.

Martha Garrett and loved one

“I’ve always felt like you look for the best,” she said. Garrett fell in love with her husband, Tommy when they were in grade school. She was 15 and he was 17 when they were married. They went on to graduate from Evansville’s Benjamin Bosse High School and recently celebrated their 50 year anniversary. Both of their sons, and their granddaughter graduated from the same high school. Her husband retired as the school’s groundskeeper and continues to work for the athletic department. Over the years, Garrett taught Lamaze classes, worked as a critical care nursing tech, and drove a school bus for 27 years.

Throughout her hospital stay, Garrett took pictures with her nurses and other patients. She offered encouraging words to those having a bad day. She posted one picture of her hooked to an IV riding an exercise bike at IU Health Simon Cancer Center with the caption: “What’s your excuse?” She wore bright colors, big earrings, and surrounded herself with favorite photos of family members and her Golden Retriever

“My husband is the love of my life and I am so blessed with family and friends,” said Garrett. “I have met so many people in the hospital and I feel like yes, I got a diagnosis, but God is also taking me to a mission field.”

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