Creating a Charity 8 Days After a Rare Cancer Diagnosis: Dying Defiantly Founder Shares His Story

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After Marshall Morris was diagnosed with a rare cancer and given only six months to live, he created a charity that empowers people with terminal illness and provides them with counseling and support.

After receiving a diagnosis of late-stage cancer, Marshall Morris, a former business owner, decided that he wanted to live life to the fullest and not let his prognosis turn into pessimism.

In June 2021, Morris was doing yardwork when he noticed painful itching. Thinking it was just poison ivy, the then 50-year-old shrugged it off. When the itch persisted, he went to the doctor who told him that the enzymes in his liver were elevated and that he needed to see a specialist.


The specialist diagnosed Morris with stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma, a type of rare cancer found in the bile ducts inside the liver. Morris’ doctors originally planned to perform surgery to remove the tumor, but it was too large. Plans for a liver transplant similarly fell through when they realized that the cancer had spread too much throughout his body.

He then immediately underwent chemotherapy treatment and then started a clinical trial in October 2021. However, his prognosis remained poor. In January 2022, Morris was told by his doctors that he had six months to live.

Remaining optimistic and looking for solidarity online, Morris sought out support groups on Facebook but found them too focused on the negative aspects of life with cancer. Morris wanted a community that reflected his beliefs of positivity and living life to the fullest, but he couldn’t find it. So, he created one.

Eight days after his diagnosis, Morris founded Dying Defiantly, an organization that provides people with terminal illnesses with end-of-life, family and bereavement counseling as well as legal services.

In today’s episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, Morris explains how Imfinzi (durvalumab) has significantly reduced the size of his tumor and improved his quality of life, the important role he believes his faith and mindset play in his experience with cancer, how Dying Defiantly has helped people throughout the world, his plans for the organization’s future and more.

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