INTERVIEW WITH SURVIVOR, CAROL MEADOWS
“You never know how strong you are until strong is all you can be”
It's October, and we want to bring attention to the importance of Breast Cancer awareness. There are so many individuals and families currently affected by breast cancer, and especially during the time of COVID-19, we have to remember those who are battling other illnesses.
CM - My name is Carol Meadows, I am 52 years old, Mum to Christopher (and Daisy, our Pitbull), I’m a wife to Neil, a daughter, and a sister to 6 brothers and sisters, as well as a breast cancer survivor.
TT - How and when were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
CM - I was diagnosed on November 8th, 2016 - It had been for an exploratory mammogram as I was monitoring a cyst in my right breast that I had had for many years and noticed it had changed shape. Upon further discovery, they confirmed it was cancerous, but they also found another lump in my left breast that was unrelated, more prominent, and cancerous.
TT - That must have been such a shock; what were your first thoughts when you found out you were diagnosed?
CM - If I am honest, my first initial reaction to the news was, “am I going to die?”
TT - Because you hadn’t had a cancer scare before, how did the diagnosis affect your view of cancer?
CM - I was mad at cancer; I lived a relatively healthy lifestyle, I thought I was doing everything right, and it still invaded my body.
TT - What did you find most challenging while going through treatment?
CM - You would think it would be that I was losing my breasts, but it wasn’t – they became something that was trying to harm me, so I was glad to have them removed – the hardest thing for me by far was preparing myself to lose my hair. I found that taking my power back from the disease helped me a lot, so I decided to shave it off before it fell out, my good friend Amber shaved it for me, and my son, husband, and good friend Brian shaved off their hair too in solidarity with me.
TT - I love that. It’s so important to have a close support system. How long have you been in remission?
CM - I like to say NED (no evidence of disease) rather than remission. I have been NED since June 15th, 2017.
TT - Was there anything you didn’t know before diagnosis that surprised you throughout your journey?
CM - Just how quickly your life can change and how I will never be the person I was before my cancer diagnosis.
TT - I’m sure it does change your perception of everything. Does a history of breast cancer raise your risk for health complications from COVID-19?
CM - Thankfully, my oncologist said I am not as much of a risk because I am so far out from finishing treatment and my immune system is not as compromised as it was at the beginning.
TT - Good; I’m so glad to hear that! With everything going on at the moment, what precautions are you taking to ensure your health and safety?
CM - I have been vigilant with following the experts’ directive by wearing a mask, washing my hands constantly, and social distancing.
TT - How can we all support those affected by breast cancer and help increase breast cancer awareness right now?
CM - I cannot even imagine going through a breast cancer (or any cancer) diagnosis during a pandemic. I could not have gotten through my ordeal without my support network, and to think that these people are having surgeries/treatments alone just breaks my heart. Patients are also delaying their treatments, and fundraising dollars are down, meaning charities are at risk of cutting research down, which means fewer treatment options are available. Please try and continue to donate to charities even if it’s a small amount, it all counts - cancer does not stop because of a pandemic. We need to keep raising money for research so we can eradicate this horrible disease.
TT - I couldn’t agree more. We all have to continue supporting these critical organizations, especially now. Is there any other advice or wisdom you would like to impart?
CM - I cannot say this enough – regardless of your age, you MUST self-check EVERY month; this way, you will get to know your body and be more aware of any changes. Cancer does not discriminate, and it is now affecting more and more younger women – the key to survival is early detection. One more thing, “You never know how strong you are until strong is all you can be.”
In addition to being one of the happiest, strongest, and most optimistic women we know, Carol has also begun her pledge to walk 100 miles over the month of October to raise money for Making Strides. Started by the American Cancer Society, this organization dedicates itself to funding breast cancer research, providing patient services, and offering a 24/7 cancer support helpline.
- CLICK HERE to help Carol in her 100-mile pledge and raise money for breast cancer research, resources, and support.