Carol Burpeau

Age: 55
Profession: Account Executive
Type of Breast Cancer: ER, PR Positive, Her2 Negative, Stage 4
Year of Diagnosis: 2013, 2018
Number of years as a survivor: 5
Relationship to Susan G Komen: Race participant

In 2012, I celebrated my 50th birthday in Machu Picchu; six months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I learned of my diagnosis, I was in a mind-numbing fog. Somehow in those first weeks, I found my inner warrior. I was determined to learn about breast cancer.  My breast surgeon recommended I read Dr. Susan G. Love’s book and I bought two other books to jumpstart my education. My research extended to the library and was grateful for books placed there by the Susan G Komen Foundation. It’s a paralyzing sensation to read about a disease that you want to run madly, wildly away from. I became an active participant in my treatment plan. I also benefited from having my tumor tested with the Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Test to guide my treatment options. During my darkest hours, I had a guiding angel from the American Cancer Society’s “Reach to Recovery” who provided me with much comfort and guidance.

My sisters and best friend had been my bedrock of strength. Notably leading up to my double mastectomy surgery, I could lean on them, and they were always there to listen and be supportive. Through the power of prayer, I also found much solace in my church.
I never gave up on having a positive outlook. I have joined support groups such as Bosom Buddies, been a “Model of Hope” for Day of Caring, participated in Ford’s Pink Warrior’s “More Good Days,” and paddle for the dragon boat team made up of breast cancer survivors called Broward Fierce Fighters. In all these endeavors, I have met amazing survivors and volunteers who have enriched my life for their friendship, kindness, and support.

My experience has been as a thriving survivor. For my five-year survivor anniversary, I was looking forward to a triumphant celebration because I had successfully put cancer in my rear-view mirror. However, on my five-year anniversary, I received the sucker punch of a lifetime-my breast cancer was back. This news is the scary specter that haunts all survivors. Still, “courageous” is the word that I would use to describe my warrior journey.  Now more than ever, when I walk in a survivor ceremony, I raise my hand up in victory for I will not let this disease win the battle for my life and well-being.

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