Sometimes, horrible situations actually become a blessing in disguise. Such was the case for Riviera resident Peggy Maddox, who was given only two months to live when she was diagnosed with metastatic malignant melanoma in 1983.
The mother of two young boys at the time, the diagnosis upended Peggy’s life, but ultimately helped her dig deep within to find courage and the desire to help others cope with life-threatening illness. “My diagnosis taught me to live in the moment and not wait to travel, spend time with others and do things I’ve always wanted to do,” says Peggy.
“I drew on the spirit within me and prayer and was able to overcome the fear, depression and anger that comes with a life crisis such as this.” A sun lover her whole life, Peggy lives just a few blocks from the beach and spent many hours in the sun soaking in the rays, a habit she believes contributed to her diagnosis.
“I remind friends and family to use sunblock, get suspicious moles biopsied, and check your birthday suit on your birthday for any new moles,” she says. Peggy was the first patient to participate in a clinical trial immunotherapy program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute that she credits for her recovery.
“When I was diagnosed my goal was to see my sons graduate high school, and now I have 3 grandchildren,” she says. Peggy used many tools to help in her recovery, among them keeping a positive attitude, scheduling a time to indulge in fear, using meditation and biofeedback and relying on journaling to process feelings.
She explains these stress-coping strategies and many more in her book, “On the Edge, Health Crisis: Helping Yourself,” which she wrote in 1991 to describe her journey to health. The second edition of the book was released in 2015 on Amazon. Peggy taught health and wellness for more than 35 years, including a class on acupressure/applied kinesiology at Torrance Adult School and Character Traits and Values at Rolling Hills Country Day School.
She has lectured at wellness organizations on health and stress management and universities and colleges throughout Southern California. Now retired, she has lead a senior walking group through Torrance Adult School for 30 years called The Dolphins that meets twice a week to stretch and walk at Torrance Beach. She also does water aerobics three days a week and plays golf. Peggy, her husband Richard, and their sons moved from New Jersey to their dream house in the Riviera 42 years ago.
“We love this area and I’m thankful for every day,” she says. “Life handed me a big challenge, and I survived and good things came of it.”