Anne Carter urges people to put their health first

Anne Carter has lived with breast cancer since she was ten years old.

That’s how old she was when her mother found a lump. Only 38 years old at the time, Mariela was a busy woman with two kids in the middle of planning a move. Like far too many women, she didn’t prioritize getting to the doctor quickly. The breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes by the time she received a diagnosis.

The aggressive treatment that Mariela received saved her life. It also made an indelible impression on Anne.  Even at a young age, she understood the toll the chemotherapy and radiation took on her mother. Ultimately, that personal experience fueled her involvement with The Lynn Sage Foundation Board of Directors.

Mariela beat her breast cancer in 1993 and eventually moved to southern California, living a healthy and full life. It was twenty years later that she received news far too many survivors hear. The breast cancer that infected her lymph nodes all those years ago had now metastasized to her bones. Unfortunately, few statistics are collected for metastatic breast cancer, but estimates suggest that 20-30% of patients will experience late recurrence.

Today, Anne travels from Chicago to Los Angeles every other week. She visits her parents, attends doctor’s appointments, and helps care for her mother. She is astounded by the evolution of cancer treatment she observes.

“I remember how aggressive the chemotherapy was before. Science has evolved so much since then. My mom has had a very stable, normal life these past four years, all while living with cancer again. This time, her treatment could be targeted to specific cells and, at least in the beginning, was less aggressive. She was even able to open a pilates studio while undergoing treatment. Her attitude, her medical team and the treatment have all just been remarkable!”

The targeted treatment Mariela receives now resulted from years of diligent and extensive research. Witnessing the difference research advances like these make in her own mother’s life, Anne is convinced that science is the key to either cure or prevent this terrible disease.

“I’ve met the Lynn Sage Scholars and toured their labs. It’s so fascinating how they can identify the different cells and specifically target them.  I’ve seen how far we’ve come and can only imagine what the next 10-20 years will bring!  At the end of the day, breast cancer research is the only thing that will make a difference.”

The research that led to Mariela’s treatment is similar to research being conducted by one of the current Lynn Sage Scholars. Dr. Marc Mendillo is investigating the progression of tumors, metastasis and target therapeutics.

As passionate as she is about finding a cure, Anne is equally passionate about women being proactive about their health. She can’t help but wonder what would have happened if her mother’s original breast cancer had been diagnosed earlier.

“If my mom had gotten her cyst removed on time, perhaps we wouldn’t be here. If you notice anything abnormal, get it screened and tested!  Women get nervous about going to the doctor, but that’s the wrong attitude. It’s a win/win situation. If it’s nothing, you’re good. If it’s something, it will be handled ASAP.”

Anne Carter has hardly known a life without breast cancer. But, she knows better than most the impact research makes on the quality of life for patients like her mother. This Mother’s Day, celebrate Mom and all the mothers who live with strength and grace in the face of breast cancer.  Support the research that allows them to do that by sending Cards for a Cure.

Proceeds from both electronic and paper cards support the Lynn Sage Scholars, whose tireless work is changing the lives of breast cancer patients and their families.