When individuals gather to walk in the Marion County Relay for Life Friday in Marion, Faye Makovec of Marion in all likelihood will be among them. She is a cancer survivor.
A blood test during a regular physical in late 2005 first alerted her to the fact that she might have multiple melanoma. The disease is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
As the longtime Marion County Register of Deeds, Makovec had been contemplating retirement and had decided to work one more term when the definitive diagnosis came in early 2006. Tests on samples of her bone marrow confirmed it.
“I felt let down,” she said. “My heart dropped, and I wondered, ‘How did I contract this?’”
The only thing she could do was to put her trust in doctors to help her.
During the next two years, she underwent an outpatient treatment regimen that included oral chemotherapy and two transplants of her own stem cells. She retired from her job at the end of 2007.
She now is in partial remission and has blood tests every three months.
“It’s still hard,” she said. “Every time you have a checkup, you wonder. You live one day at a time.”
A fervent Catholic, Makovec said she prays often, and the prayers of her family and church friends have given her the strength to endure.
“I think prayer is the main thing that gets you through it,” she said.
Makovec said her husband Jerry has been at her side every step of the way, transporting her to treatments and staying with her while she spent six weeks in the hospital.
She said her four children — Donita, Joe, Jeff, and Tim — and their families also have provided a lot of support.
As a side effect of her cancer treatments, Makovec battles peripheral neuropathy, pain and weakness in her legs and feet.
Despite the side effects, she works to stay active. She volunteers in church activities and the St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary. She also assists with Relay for Life.
“You have to have a positive attitude,” she said. “You have your days, but you can’t let it take you over.”