Finding Balance in Life and Treatment with Marnie Clark

Nick Baker, Website Content Manager
Quote from Marnie about reprioritizing her life

The symptoms that led Marnie Clark to her doctor were unusual. Her leg was feeling “weird,” but it was more of an annoyance than something she was concerned about. Then came an issue she couldn’t ignore—her leg was paralyzed, and she couldn’t move it. 

“The doctor thought it had to be something physically wrong with my leg, but over the previous two years I started to take my health seriously and was working with a personal trainer. I was feeling strong, so it didn’t make sense that I had a physical problem with my leg,” says Marnie. 

The first medical tests were all focused on her leg, and all came back normal. Eventually, Marnie and her husband decided to forgo waiting for insurance to cover exams and instead pay out of pocket for what needed to be done. 

This pushed her medical team to start looking at other parts of her body, and finally, they had some answers. The first was a concerning spot on her lungs they needed to investigate, but it still didn’t explain her leg issue. That answer came later. 

At one point everything started to move really fast. I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on a Tuesday, that Friday a brain scan found the tumor that was affecting my leg. Then the following Tuesday I underwent brain surgery to drain the tumor.

Marnie Clark

Eliminating the brain tumor was a success. However, it meant physical therapy to improve the movement in her leg after the damage it caused, and of course the active stage IV lung cancer needed to be treated. 

Marnie with her family

She finally had answers, but instead of one issue it was two. It was time to find balance in treatment and in life. 

“I’ve been very busy the last 33 years of my life. My husband and I own a construction company and we also have three kids. Having the brain tumor and being diagnosed with lung cancer caused me to really reprioritize and rebuild my life.” 

Some of this reprioritization was out of necessity. Marnie did regular physical therapy for her leg and began taking a targeted medication for her EGFR-positive lung cancer. But she also changed things within her control. 

Her daily life needed more balance—less stress and more happiness. The first major decision was to retire from the company she ran with her husband. Then, during her search for in-person support groups, she found a local organization, Kitsap Cancer Services, and joined the Board of Directors. And above all, she made a point to prioritize the people in her life—her family and friends. 

“I was lucky to be in the position to retire, and blessed that this has allowed me to enjoy my life. But I realized I didn’t have to have cancer to reprioritize my life. I have control over a lot of the changes I’ve made,” says Marnie. 

It’s been two years since the “weird” feeling in Marnie’s leg started the medical journey that found her lung cancer and brain tumor. And so far, the treatment news has been positive. 

“Currently I feel very lucky. The brain tumor is gone, my leg is almost back to what it was, and the first medication I was put on for my lung cancer is continuing to work.” 

Some of the stress remains, like when a scheduled screening approaches and Marnie has thoughts of “what if the cancer returns.” However, reprioritizing her life—and finding balance—brought Marnie a deeper understanding of what she wants and cares about. 

Marnie (second from left) at the Kitsap Cancer Services fundraising run

“I try not to focus on the negative ways that cancer has impacted my life—I'd happily give it back if I could—instead I focus on the gifts that have come from this diagnosis and the positive ways my life has changed. Not to say there aren't bad days, there are plenty, I just give myself permission to feel those feelings and then move on,” says Marnie. 

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