Marion D. Edwards
July 10, 1928 - January 12, 2013
Edwards legacy continues through Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology
On this, the seventh anniversary of his death, Marion Edwards is being remembered as a remarkable patient who distinguished himself through his fierce fighting spirit to not only survive both colon and liver cancer, but to reach out and support individuals needing treatment.
Edwards’ widow, Deborah “Penny” Meaux Edwards, continues to see firsthand his positive impact on M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and on the lives of so many Louisiana cancer patients through the Marion D. Edwards Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology established in 2001.
To quote Marion, “I feel I owe my life to M.D. Anderson. I feel God spared me so that as a survivor, I can help others through this shared journey.”
The first person to “partner” with M.D. Anderson to set up the fellowship was long-time Edwards family friend B.I. Moody III of Crowley.
“His Foundation made a large contribution, along with others from Crowley like Ted Carmichael,” said Penny Edwards. “Perry Segura of New Iberia also had a large part in this initial effort and contribution.”
Edwards was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1977 and with liver cancer in 1982.
As soon as he was able to rebuild his robust health, he committed himself to supporting both the physicians and scientists as well as patients. This commitment never waivered until his death in 2013.
His semi-retired life of living in LeTriomphe enabled his last eight years to provide more outreach than ever and the continued enabling through this Fellowship is his legacy.
Edwards’ survival of critically devastating cancer was considered such a statistical “miracle” that he was affectionately known as “The Walking Swamp Miracle” at M.D. Anderson, according to Penny Edwards.
Awarding of his distinguished fellowship is very competitive, but only two fellows are chosen on a rotating basis.
Currently Fellow Timothy Newhook, M.D., focuses his strategies to reduce the need for opioid medications after liver surgery — now at epidemic levels.
“This is especially significant to me because I saw Marion attack his potential for addiction as a fight for his life,” said Penny. “It took pure will and medical intervention.”
Fellow Fan Yao, Ph.D., directs his research to experimental radiation oncology. He was chosen by faculty based on his work in liver cancer development and liver-related metabolic disease.
“Even after advancements since Marion’s 1982 liver cancer, that ‘magical five-year survival’ period after which cancer is deemed totally cured, liver cancer survival is only 18 percent,” Penny Edwards explains.
Liver cancer is the second most lethal cancer, after pancreatic.
“Luckily, I have been cancer free, but I strive to carry on Marion’s dedication to working with both M.D. Anderson and with cancer victims who reach out to me for guidance,” said Penny. “I channel his legendary spirit using many of his quotes and comforting advice for all who reach out.
“His favorite quote highlighting the urgency of getting to M.D. Anderson was, ‘Remember, cancer never sleeps.’ I also encourage contributions and awareness of his Fellowship.”
Of all of Marion’s many accomplishments, Penny said he was most proud of this prestigious recognition by friends, colleagues and the cancer center.
“My dream is to complete Marion’s dream of increasing donations to convert his Fellowship to the honored Professorship,” she said. “This would enable M.D. Anderson to attract the most distinguished physicians and researchers in the field of hepatic oncology from around the world.”
It is important for Louisianians to know that currently there are:
• 138 physicians from Louisiana in the M.D. Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association;
• 648 physicians from Louisiana refer patients to M.D. Anderson;
• The Board of Visitors includes six members from Louisiana to provide leadership and support;
• The 2018 Summer Program included two Louisiana students.
• Today’s admissions policy provides for self-referral as opposed to attending physicians’ referrals.
Marion Edward was the younger brother of former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards and was born July 10, 1928, in Marksville. He operated a successful insurance and real estate agency — The Edwards Insurance and Real Estate Agency — in Crowley from 1956 through 2012.
A cancer survivor since 1977, he died peacefully Jan. 12, 2013, in his Broussard home surrounded by family and friends.