In December 2016, Joann Carlisle, of Lanett, was four months pregnant and excited to finally learn the gender of her baby. However, later that afternoon, she also received the devastating news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “The news took me for an emotional ride,” Carlisle says. “Finding out you have cancer can leave you in a state of uncertainty.  Being a mother of three precious daughters and pregnant with my fourth daughter, I had to make a decision quickly.”

On Dec. 20, 2016, Carlisle had a double mastectomy and began chemotherapy at the Cancer Center of East Alabama at EAMC. Karen Calton, breast health navigator at the Cancer Center explains that during what many would deem impossible circumstances, Carlisle kept a positive attitude. “Whenever I see her, Joann is always smiling,” Calton says. “She was diagnosed with breast cancer during her pregnancy, had a bilateral mastectomy, began chemotherapy, delivered a healthy baby girl, then came back to complete chemotherapy. She and her baby are both living miracles. Life has not been easy for Joann, who is a mother of four girls with many needs, on top of a cancer diagnosis herself. Many in her situation would complain, but she doesn’t. She has persevered tougher than anyone I’ve ever seen and is a true fighter in every sense of the word.”

After delivering a healthy baby girl at EAMC in April, Carlisle returned to chemotherapy at the Cancer Center and completed her treatments in June. “I prayed that God would protect my unborn child and keep me strong enough to care for my girls,” Carlisle says. “Amid the storm, God gave me peace. I was still able to wear my smile and tell others to stay strong because I knew being positive and remaining faithful to God would bring me through [my treatment]. I am forever grateful.”

BREAST CANCER RISK FACTORS

• Breast cancer is more common in Caucasian women, aged 50 years and  older.

Other factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer include:

• Personal history of breast cancer

• Family members with breast cancer

• Changes in breast tissue, such as atypical ductal hyperplasia,  radial scar formation, and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

• Genetic mutations, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and others

• Overweight, particularly after menopause

• Consuming a diet that is high in red meat

• Increased exposure to estrogen over a lifetime through:

                o Early onset of menstruation

                o Late onset of menopause

                o No childbearing or late childbearing

                o Absence of breast-feeding

                o Hormone replacement therapy

• Increased breast density—more lobular and ductal tissue and less fatty tissue

• Radiation therapy before the age of 30 years old

• Smoking

• Excessive alcohol use

LOCAL UPCOMING BREAST CANCER EVENTS

>> 9/29 – “Pink Out the Duck” at the Auburn High School’s game.

>> 10/14 – 13th Annual THINK PINK walk  and celebration in downtown Opelika. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and walk begins at 9:30 a.m. There will be NO pre-registra tion for this event, registration only on the day of the event.  The event is $15, which includes a THINK PINK t-shirt.

>> 10/19 – EAMC Foundation’s Wine, Women and Shoes fundraiser at the Moore’s Mill Club.

>> 10/20 – “Pink Out” at Opelika High School’s game

>> 10/31 – Free Mammogram Day for uninsured or underinsured women age 40 and older. An appointment is needed.

Call (334) 528-4370 for more information.

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