October - Carla Girod
When Carla Girod entered her doctor’s office in July 2017, she did so with the confidence of a woman in near peak physical condition. Her weight was in check, she was a regular at road races, and was an advocate for a healthy lifestyle all around. But the woman who exited the office for her routine mammogram, though admittedly overdue, was hit with what felt like a tonne of bricks; as her confidence was replaced with a positive diagnosis for breast cancer.
“(During) the mammogram and ultrasound, the doctor said (the lump I felt) was a cyst on the right breast. But then he went to the left breast where I'd found absolutely no lump, and said he didn't like what he saw and ordered a fine-needle biopsy, which revealed that I had cancer in the left breast,” she said.To say she was shocked would be an understatement. “My initial reaction was, it can't be true!”
Carla however had a fighting spirit, and determined in her mind, that similar to her approach to battle being overweight in 2013, and transforming herself into a healthier, happier person, she would battle cancer with a positive outlook. “When you hear someone has cancer, you think of them in pain, lying in bed, and that was not me.” Instead Carla defied that stereotype by continuing to live her life to the fullest and maintaining her active lifestyle. She shares, “I initially thought that my active lifestyle filled with hikes, 5Ks and gym classes, would be severely curtailed through my months of chemo and other treatments. Surprisingly, I found that although there were setbacks, I was able to continue being active throughout my treatments. In fact, my doctors surmise that perhaps it is because of my active lifestyle that I have responded so well.”
In her blog Miles To Go Before I Sleep, which doubled as therapy, Carla shared the courageous story of her late friend, Katrina, who after being diagnosed with cancer, was given six months to live, yet she created a list of everything she wanted to accomplish before dying. “She died, but it was seven years, not six months, and she accomplished everything on her list and created a new list and did most of what was on it. Having seen what Katrina accomplished through sheer determination and grit, inspired me to not lie down and wallow in misery, but to be positive, and hopefully inspire others the way she inspired me,” revealed Carla in her blog.
Always a big fan of the Pink Run, which is organized by the Jamaica Cancer Society; the 2017 version took on added meaning for the JMMB Joan Foundation administrative officer. “The Pink Run is ironically one of my favourite runs that I've always done, to support breast cancer, and didn't imagine that having done Pink Run the previous year, I'd be doing it in (2017) as a survivor.”
Since being diagnosed, Carla has undergone two surgeries, five months of chemotherapy, numerous tests and injections, and many doctors’ appointments, and is now happily cancer free. She adds, “I can truly state that I am stronger both mentally and physically. There is much that I have gained through this experience. I am still overwhelmed by the support I have received and continue to receive from family, friends, and even acquaintances.”
For others facing the disease, she encourages them to stay positive and push through. And for those afraid of getting tested, she shares this piece of advice; “Yes, it's half an hour of discomfort to do the mammogram, but to give you that ease and peace of mind, get tested.”
Still running and hiking across different areas locally, Carla is looking forward to the upcoming Pink Run in a few weeks, and crossing the finish line as a champion over the battle against breast cancer.