Shortly after Marshall and Ashley Lauen celebrated their wedding, Marshall started feeling fatigue, losing weight and was experiencing trouble breathing. He figured it was an allergy to something blowing in the Oklahoma wind.
But when Ashley awoke in the middle of the night to see Marshall choking and drenched in sweat, they knew it was something more serious.
Marshall's Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis and treatment
After multiple biopsies and no diagnosis, Marshall came to MD Anderson in May 2013 looking for answers. Within the first two days, Marshall received his stage II Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis
and began treatment.
Marshall and Ashley made frequent trips to MD Anderson during Marshall's six months of chemotherapy
, but continued living in Oklahoma so he could continue his work as a pastor and teacher.
But when scans showed that the cancer was active and growing again, the couple moved to Houston to fight. Marshall underwent three rounds of an intense type of chemo commonly referred to as ICE (ICE is named for the initials of the drugs used: ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide) and a stem cell transplant
Last week, Marshall discovered he is cancer-free and will begin radiation therapy
to ensure that the cancer is eliminated.
Finding support in suffering
Throughout Marhsall's Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, many churchgoers, students, family members and friends have volunteered their support for the couple. Each day, Ashley opens her inbox to see email after email from church members Marshall has pastored to, students he has taught or co-workers he has helped.
"There is no way we would even be able to be at MD Anderson if not for the support of people that love us," Ashley says.
One day, while the couple was sitting in the center's waiting room, tired and ready to go home, they opened their inbox to find an extra special email: a video created by more than 100 students at Mustang North Middle School, where Marshall teaches eighth grade science.
The video get well card was exactly what they needed, Marshall says.
"The video reminds me that it doesn't take long to make an impression on people," Marshall says. "It allowed me to see that others are being inspired by my suffering."
"My school has done so much to help me out, which I wasn't expecting because I hadn't been there very long," he says. "But one of the things I've been reminded of through my cancer journey is it doesn't take long to make an impression on people."
Read more about Marshall and Ashley on their blog.