Marjorie Cardwell – surviving a ‘rotten year’

Marjorie is an exeptional singer, song-writer

Marjorie is a Melbourne based singer, songwriter           Photo: DC Cardwell

You discover you have a brain tumour.  Then, while you’re recovering you are diagnosed with another brain tumour. Would you keep strong?  One woman tells of her ‘rotten year’

HOW sick are you?  This is the one question that Marjorie Cardwell could not answer.

Marjorie Cardwell a Melbourne-based artist and senior school teacher, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February last year.

The news came as a complete shock. Marjorie says she underestimated the severity of her illness.

“It was a shock obviously … because like anybody else you will assume it will be something else or nothing wrong,” she says.

Rhetorically and kind of foolishly I asked her if she was scared, fearful of the unexpected.

Busy with teaching, music and family Marjorie just wanted to “get it over with”.

Overwhelmed by shock she says there was one thing that got her “teary”.

The prospect of not being able to see what her younger son Samuel, a bright student could achieve was heartbreaking.

“The youngest one at that point had not finished at Melbourne … so I thought maybe I will not get to see all the things he does,” says Marjorie.

After hearing such news we would typically crawl into a dark hole in the earth’s surface, but Marjorie was different.

Three weeks before her operation to remove the tumour, she miraculously created her spirited album ‘In Another World’.

“In that period of time I wanted to get as much music recorded as possible, in case I was not set to record music,” she says.

Childhood sweethearts Marjorie and DC Cardwell, are a husband and wife musical partnership in Melbourne.

They grew up in Northern Ireland, moved to Vancouver and then to Melbourne, to pursue their family life and studies.

Having raised two sons Joel and Samuel, her sudden diagnosis was the catalyst to realising that her music work was incomplete.

With a music studio built in her house, Marjorie has the freedom to record her vibrant upbeat songs whenever she can.

Fortunately Marjorie’s brain tumour was benign and the operation at Monash Medical Centre was successful.

Looking at some pictures of her recovery I thought she looked fantastic.

She says the credit goes to her amazing comb over.

“I have got very thick hair and half of my hair part was shaved,” she says.

“I just changed the parting in my hair and combed it all over, but my face was still swollen underneath it.”

Seven weeks after her operation, Marjorie returned back to work.

Although she went back to teaching, she says she is still recovering.

“To be honest it was a great recovery and it could be a lot worse,” she says.

Just as things were getting back to normal with Marjorie resuming full time work and putting the final touches on her album everything grind to a sudden halt when she discovered she had another brain tumour.

“It was a let down,” she says.

Although she still has the tumour, it is very small and a third of the size of the other one.

“It’s one of those things a lot of people probably have, but they wouldn’t know they had,” she says.

“It’s just as a result of the fact that I was having all of these scans and they found it.”

Sandra Wilson, an acting manager for Education and Training at Cancer Council Victoria says that brain tumours are often discovered by accident.

“They can be picked by accident someone might be actually be having a scan for something completely unrelated and they pick up that there is a brain tumour there,” Wilson says.

Marjorie describes 2012 as a “rotten year”  because not only did she have two brain tumours she was also seriously anaemic.

“One thing leads to another and you have three things wrong, when you didn’t know you have any,” she says.

I asked her if her year from hell had changed her in any way.

Strikingly she says that the one thing she doesn’t care about is her appearance.

With her thick sunshine hair and gleaming smile, Marjorie says that looking picture perfect is the least of her worries.

“I feel very grateful that I am alive and I feel less daunted about things,” she says.

She says the completion of her album is something she is extremely proud of.

“It made me realise if I really wanted to do something… if I put my mind I could do it,” Marjorie says.

“I went through all of that… and I am thinking that god is great, it is amazing what you can do.”

Marjorie’s story from Sarah Mariyam Akbar on Vimeo.


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