Survivor Stories 2014:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I discovered my lump while bathing. I was feeling very exhausted because I had just returned home from a friend’s funeral service. I panicked when I saw it that Saturday afternoon, and on Monday I was at my doctor’s office.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I was very shocked and scared. My son was only 18 months at the time, and all I could think was I have to be here for him. I thought of the fact that my paternal grandmother died of breast cancer, so I was thinking I was going to die also.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I received a lumpectomy to remove the lump in my right breast. 15 lymph nodes were removed to find out if any cancer had spread; and thankfully they were found to be negative. At the time, my doctor said I was young so he wanted me to only take radiation treatments. I took the treatments 5 days a week for 6 weeks.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
I guess the way they marked my body with green and red markers. Some of the lines were visible depending on the clothing I wore. I saw how some people looked at me very strangely, and I also saw the concern and passion in others.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Not to be afraid. The breast cancer survival rate is very high today, even for women diagnosed with Stage 4 or 5 breast cancer.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I have been cancer free for 21 wonderful years!
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
The lessons I learned were all positive. I had a better outlook on life for both my son and myself because my faith helped strengthened me. Before cancer, I worried a lot and did not know how to handle stress.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Have your mammograms done regularly, do self-examines regularly, and if you find something wrong go immediately to your doctor. Have faith, remain positive, go through your treatments and know that there is life after breast cancer.
Carmela Ledet is a 21 year breast cancer survivor and a community outreach volunteer for the Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. While she has always showed compassion for others, she began actively raising funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure after her diagnosis in 1993. Her desire to help others deepened in 2002 when she lost her close friend, Sharon Jennings-Roy, to breast cancer. Under Carmela’s leadership, Sharon’s mother and other close friends walked in Komen Race for the Cure events in both Houston and San Antonio to raise funds for breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment. For the past 11 years they have not missed a walk, and are known as Sharon’s Angels. Working as an outreach volunteer, Carmela often serves in communities where the rate of breast cancer tends to be higher, and the access to healthcare is very low and often doesn’t exist. She feels that the more women we inform on services available throughout the city, the more lives we can save. She speaks at surrounding churches on breast cancer awareness and attends health fairs and various programs throughout Houston on behalf of Komen Houston. Carmela has appeared on KRIV Fox 26 News, KTRK Channel 13, KIAH Channel 39, the live broadcast of the Victor Trevino Community Show, KRBE 104-FM Radio Station, and KWWJ Gospel 1360-AM Radio Station with Dr. Loretta Joseph, speaking on the importance of breast cancer awareness and participation in the Komen Houston Race.
In 2002, Carmela began working in the International Production Operations department for Marathon Oil Corporation. At the time, she had no idea that Marathon Oil would become the local presenting partner for the Komen Houston Race for the Cure. She soon began her service as the Marathon Oil Volunteer Coordinator for the Race. In past years, she has coordinated as many as 300 volunteers-staffing the Marathon Oil Survivor Tent, water stations, cooling stations, signage teams, set up and tear down teams, walkers, and runners. She also coordinates volunteers for the annual Komen Houston Race for the Cure kick-off event when held at the Marathon Oil Tower. Carmela is honored and proud to work for a company that acknowledges and supports women’s health issues.
For the past 13 years, Carmela has been a fundraiser and on the Komen Houston Pink Honor Roll. Carmela was honored and challenged to serve as the 2013 Race Chair for Komen Houston Race for the Cure. She set a record for raising the most funds by any Komen Houston Race Chair. Carmela is thankful for the support and encouragement from Marathon Oil Corporation, Sharon’s Angels, family and friends. Her favorite inspirational quote is by Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Carmela is the proud mother of one son, Jerrien Johnson, who is a recent college graduate.