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For years, Adrienne Carter has captured images of breast cancer survivors, never imagining she would one day be one herself.
In August, Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is scheduled for her first step in recovery Oct. 22, having a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. This is one of the two surgeries she will have in the next three months.
August 14 started as any other day for Carter. Returning to the classroom, it was her first day teaching at Clinton High School.
“This was an exciting and a nervous day for me and when my last class was over I declared the day a success,” Carter said. “This was also the day I was told I had breast cancer.”
Following her day at school, Carter had a followup appointment with her physician. She said she was never prepared to hear the words breast cancer when she entered into the doctor’s office.
“I thought I would never hear those words for me — breast cancer,” Carter said. “It was a surreal moment. As soon as the doctor walked in the room, he shook his head. I knew what that meant. I think immediately my faith took over because I never let go of my smile.”
Diligently listening to the doctor’s words, Carter says she looked into the physician’s eyes and read into his heart.
“I knew he did not want to share that news — what doctor does,” Carter said.
Through the years of capturing breast cancer survivors on camera, Carter learned one thing. If ever given the news, she would remain mentally strong.
“I think for years I practiced it in my mind,” Carter attested. “I knew that one of the keys of survival in a case like this would be keeping a positive attitude and letting my faith go to work.”
As a special project she holds dear to her heart, Carter takes portraits of women who are survivors of breast cancer. Photography is a passion for Carter, and a week prior to her diagnosis, she says she had a special session with a beautiful lady who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I enjoyed her presence and admired her smile, knowing that she was on a journey of hope, faith and courage,” Carter said. “A week later I would get to join her in the fight. I am now a part of the fight club.”
Physicians will encourage their female patients to get a screening mammogram after age 35, and yearly mammograms after 40. Carter says she is grateful to her family physician Dr. Tracey Bellenger of Total Health for recommending she get a mammogram in July. From that mammogram, Carter learned she had breast cancer.
Following this month’s surgery and a round of prescription treatments, Carter says she will be cancer free.
“This is a big surgery for me and I am preparing spiritually and mentally for the recovery,” Carter shared. “Family and faith will be very important for me. I am very grateful for my family and friends and even strangers who have come together to help me along this journey.”
Carter is the mother of three sons, the youngest just a toddler. He, Carter said, doesn’t know what is going on with his mother right now, but she can’t wait for him to get old enough to share with him the story of the miracle God brought into her life.
“I am very appreciative of the love and support,” Carter said. “We live in a very busy, busy society. People are always on the grind and have to deal with their own personal struggles and issues. So when someone takes time out of their life to make my journey easier by a friendly text or encouraging IM, I am very grateful.”
Every morning is a brand new morning for Carter. While there are brief moments of sadness when she thinks about the journey ahead, she always remembers that God is in control.
“I often think about my grandmother and wish she was here with me on this journey, but I am learning some journeys you have to walk alone; alone with God and His promise and plan for your life,” Carter said. “He has a plan for my life and this is just the challenge. I need to perfect the gift and purpose He has for my life.”
Carter said she won’t let this obstacle in her life stop her or slow her down. She is well aware of the fact that she isn’t the only person going through this struggle and thinks often about others who share in her journey.
“After my surgery, I will head back to the class room and inspire,” Carter said. “I will go back to church and dance like David. I will take my camera and capture the moments of life and make them art.”
Carter said she hopes others will learn from her story and schedule those mammograms.
“It is important that we take care of our temples,” Carter shared. “God only gives us one body and it is our responsibility to take care of it. My motto is, ‘Your body is not an object, it’s a temple.’”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.