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Young Leukemia Patient Finds Joy in Art

CancerWise - December 2007

By Gail Goodwin

The Children’s Art Project (CAP) at M. D. Anderson has produced wonderful cards and gifts over the years to fund patient-focused programs, but the effect it has had on its pediatric artists is a gift in itself.

Leukemia survivor Carrington Marzett, 17, has found great comfort and healing by creating art for CAP and participating in CAP-funded activities, says her father Steve Marzett.

“CAP has helped her with her creativity and self-esteem. It has brought her joy and confidence, as well as given her something good to anticipate during the hard times.”

Cancer discovered her first year of high school

Carrington Marzett

Carrington was in the 10th grade when her knee began to give her trouble. Her doctor prescribed a knee brace and frequent icing. Ten days later, it was no better; in fact, the pain was so great, it woke her up at night. Her parents took her to an orthopedist for further diagnosis. After undergoing a computed tomography (CT) scan, two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and blood tests, the diagnosis was cancer.

The next day, the Marzett family flew from their home in Midland, Texas, to Houston for an appointment at M. D. Anderson. Test results showed that Carrington had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

The months ahead were full of exams, tests and chemotherapy. During her treatment, Carrington was enrolled in her hometown high school but kept up with her classwork in M. D. Anderson classrooms. She created art for CAP and also participated in many CAP programs, including Camp A.O.K., and music therapy.

Those who take part in the activities recognize what a difference they make, not only in the daily hospital routine, but also when “normal life” continues after treatment.

High school life resumes

Today, Carrington is back to a more normal life of going to school and participating in all the things that make her senior year in high school a special one. Her cancer is in remission, and she is on a maintenance chemotherapy program, visiting her doctors at M. D. Anderson every three months.

Since she was diagnosed with cancer only eight months after moving to Midland from Broken Arrow, Okla., this is the first opportunity she has had to really settle into her new community.

She continues to explore her creativity in art and also music. She studies piano and plays oboe in the marching band at Midland’s Lee High School.

Teen helps others

Carrington is an active senior, participating in school clubs such as Students in Philanthropy. A member of the National Honor Society, she has high ambitions to become a pediatric oncologist someday, so she works hard at keeping up her grades.

At the same time, she continues to contribute art to CAP. Her “Snowman,” “Dancing Tree” and “Rainbow Angel” pieces are showcased in CAP's 2007 holiday collection.

Recently, the Permian Basin Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized her as an Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, citing her participation in CAP, which has included serving as a CAP spokesperson.

Exciting future lies ahead

Carrington has grown into a young woman older and wiser than her years. Her father and mother, Carolyn Marzett, have watched her change from a shy, sensitive young girl into a quietly confident young woman who rolls with the punches and always lands on her feet.

Carrington has a world of choices ahead of her. She would like to attend Baylor University or return to her native Oklahoma and attend Oklahoma State University in preparation for medical school.

“I’ll be able to relate to my patients and understand their struggle with pain, their emotions and everything else you go through with cancer,” she says. That positive attitude is one of the most important aspects of Carrington’s survivorship.

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center