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Memorial fund fulfills a final wish in a life well lived

  • Many people reach a certain age or stage in life when they begin to think about a bucket list.

    That was not the case for Marsha Buchok, who died in May from breast cancer at age 64. Instead of a bucket list, Marsha had what she called “a bucket full of living.” That included a family who loved her, lots of friends, a fulfilling and accomplished career, travel and more.

    Marsha spent her final years and months feeling grateful for all she had in her life. She also was inspired to share her abundance with others.  

    “Throughout her life, Marsha looked for reasons to connect with people,” recalled her husband, George. That didn’t change because she was dying.

    Marsha had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. It returned as stage IV cancer in 2014. In those years, as she both fought the disease and learned to live with it, she volunteered as a greeter at the Piper Breast Center, providing a warm, friendly presence for countless patients. She also participated in the Stage IV Breast Cancer Support Group. In these roles, she met many women who faced significant challenges beyond having cancer – some had little support from family and friends or they lacked the resources to support themselves when they were too sick to work.

    “Those experiences were really meaningful for her, and in the last months of her life, she decided she wanted to raise money for the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund,” said George. Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation’s Breast Cancer Emergency Fund provides assistance for breast cancer patients who have an urgent financial need.

    Marsha hoped to raise $25,000. Knowing that her time was running out, friends pitched in to organize a fundraising party in her honor. Marsha was able to attend and enjoy the event, held last March, which met her goal and then some.

    Donations continued to roll in after the event as Marsha’s health declined. Before she died, the Marsha Cummings Buchok Circle of Friends Fund had received $50,000, and now, nearly six months after her death, it has received more than $75,000. Already, 32 patients have benefited. A website was launched to continue spreading the word about the fund.

    “She was humbled by the support it received,” said George. “She had many people who loved her and who wanted to support what was meaningful to her. It wasn’t about anything she said or did. It was just who she was."

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    Marsha and George Buchok

    In the last months of her life, the late Marsha Buchok, shown here with her husband, George, decided she wanted to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. To date, more than $75,000 has been raised in her memory.