Carol's cancer story: more sunny days
Carol Lacey is a California mountain mum, wife, sister and daughter who lives with recurrent metastatic cervical cancer. Her passion for shattering stigmas of ‘below-the-belt’ cancers is her drive to share her story and secrets on how to find #moresunnydays through cancer.
Carol is a Cervivor Ambassador. In this video, she explains how cancer has affected her:
I have lost everything below my belt. I've had my ovaries, my fallopian tubes, my vagina, my bladder, my anus... everything removed. So I'm basically sewn up like a Barbie doll.
Initially, Carol went through pre-surgery chemotherapy and a radical hysterectomy. Then she had post-surgery chemo and external radiation. Cancer reoccurred 10 months later:
I had a second surgery called a pelvic exenteration, which removed my vagina, bladder, colon and rectum. I now live with a urostomy and colostomy, which I call Fred & Ethel.
More sunny days
Carol acknowledges that cancer isn’t pretty: "it’s ugly and it takes from us so much physically and mentally". In her case, cervical cancer has left her with ostomies (surgical openings made in the skin as a way for waste products to leave the body) but she holds on to a saying from her great-aunt Anna:
It's about counting my sunny days. While my body may look different since cancer, my heart and soul yearn to make the most of each day. I cannot change the fact that I have ostomies, but I refuse to let them hold me back. I still hike the mountains where I live and dance my heart out at Jazzercise.
Find your tribe
You don't have to fight cancer alone :
What has been the most help for me while living with cancer is finding my people, my tribe. For some that might mean seeking a cancer support group or spending more time with friends and family.
Sharing is healing
As an advocate for HPV and cervical cancer awareness, Carol is helping others better understand and prevent cervical cancer:
A huge part of my healing has been advocating for cervical cancer prevention through my work with Cervivor. I love knowing that just by sharing my story, I can be that reminder to a woman to make her well-woman appointment, something she might otherwise put off. Or it might dispel someone’s perception of a ‘below-the-belt’ cancer.
This month is cervical cancer awareness month in the United States, a great time to make sure you're up-to-date on your cervical screening appointments with your doctor.
When asked what words of wisdom Carol would like to share with fellow cancer thrivers she said:
I say find your tribe, be gentle with yourself and know that even on your darkest days, it still counts as #moresunnydays. A fellow cancer patient once said to me, ‘cancer may take my life but it will not take my day.’ Words I live by.
Carol & Mel X