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The Best Medicine: Surviving a Diagnosis with Sisters


I remember the moment in college when I realized I truly needed Kappa Delta. Before starting college, I never thought I would join a sorority. I had heard so many of the myths and stigmas. Now, I understand that joining a sisterhood means developing friendships that go deeper.

There is a level of compassion you receive from sisters that you don’t get anywhere else. My KD sisters helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without them.

girls with brick wall

Carlie and a sister excited for Bid Day.

Throughout college, I experienced many of the same highs and lows as the average student. At times I struggled academically, I weathered rough patches with friends outside of KD, and I even lost family members. Then during my junior year, I experienced one of the most trying times of my life.

One day, I noticed I was having more trouble breathing than usual. I struggled to breathe while I was talking and when I walked even short distances. As it turned out, the heart murmur I had lived with all my life suddenly become serious. I would need major heart surgery, and I only had a few months to prepare. Hearing the diagnosis was very difficult for me, especially while being four hours away from my family.

While my many friends offered their support, it was my Kappa Delta sisters who were truly there for me. My sisters never let a day go by without checking on me. They are the ones who kept me motivated during a very difficult semester of nursing school. One of our chapter advisors even took me under her wing, treating me like her own daughter.

three girls sit on a dock

Carlie now knows the value of a sisterhood.

Throughout this experience, I realized Kappa Delta is so different from how the media portrays sorority life. Being in a sorority isn’t just parties, tailgating and formals. It’s about the vulnerable, late-night conversations and life-changing moments. It’s about sharing a sisterhood with incredible, strong women who support you through the hard times. As tough as it was to go through heart surgery, I wouldn’t change the experience. I am now stronger and more confident than I was before, and I am closer than ever with my sisters.

two girls hold a sign

Carlie is proud to be VP-operations for her chapter.

Today, I am nine months post-surgery, and I am serving as vice president-operations for my chapter. If I could give any woman entering college a piece of advice, it would be to forget what you may have seen in the media and give sorority life a chance. Kappa Delta sisterhood is about developing deep friendships, celebrating special moments, and being there for one another when you’re at your lowest. Everyone goes through hard times during their college years, whether it be homesickness, academic stress or even a scary medical diagnosis, and a sorority can offer the most valuable support system imaginable.

There is truly nothing like the sisterhood I have found in opens in a new windowKappa Delta.

Carlie Marsh

opens in a new windowEpsilon Lambda – University of Alabama Huntsville

Discover more about the Kappa Delta experience opens in a new windowhere.