25 For Research: Meredith Carpenter
February 4, 2021
In 2017, Meredith Carpenter had a lot on her plate. As an attorney, a mother and a cheerleading coach, Carpenter knew that breast cancer was common in both sides of her family, but didn’t have time to think about it impacting her own life.
“Breast cancer didn’t cross my mind,” Carpenter admitted. “I didn’t think, ‘it will never happen to me.’ I just didn’t think about it.”
At age 36, she visited her gynecologist, who suggested she do a routine early baseline mammogram. Soon after, she received word that an abnormality had been found. That was when her worry started to grow.
After more rigorous testing and sending samples off to a research facility, Carpenter got the call that no one wants to receive: it was breast cancer. She was officially diagnosed with stage 0 DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). The cancer had spread throughout her right breast and the medical team was recommending a double mastectomy.
“I kept saying, ‘I don’t have time for cancer. I don’t have time for this,’” Carpenter said. “My doctor was pretty quick to say, ‘You’re going to have to make time for this. And let people take care of you.’”
A few days later, Carpenter had her first interaction with the BCRFA.
“I saw the BCRFA at the Charity Bowl [breast cancer research football game], and I had just been diagnosed. I was crying the whole time behind my sunglasses. Breast cancer was the last thing I wanted to think about.”
As she continued to prepare for treatment, however, the organization never left her mind.
Thanks to advances in breast cancer research, after a successful mastectomy, Carpenter was put on therapeutic medication which ensured her cancer would not return. Although she went on to be diagnosed with cervical cancer (now in remission) and severe kidney issues, she has not had any problems with her breast health since 2017.
The year after her mastectomy, Carpenter was breast cancer-free and ready to support the BCRFA in full force. This time, as a sponsor of the Charity Bowl.
“It was an absolute full-circle experience. I was crying for a completely different reason – I was cancer-free. It was a very powerful moment for me. Since then, I’ve wanted to get more and more involved in the mission.”
Carpenter feels strongly that breast cancer research is necessary to support, especially at the local level. With 1 in 8 women affected by the disease, she recognizes that improved testing, treatments and therapies are crucial to improving survival rates for women in Alabama just like her. Carpenter also cites the BCRFA as the first organization which made her feel empowered as a breast cancer survivor.
“You hear about these breast cancer organizations, and you wonder if the money you’re giving is going to where they say it’s going. With the BCRFA, I know the money is going directly into research, and is funding things that will help save lives. That’s huge.”
As she works to support the mission of the BCRFA, she also urges others to start taking care of their breast health early.
“Breast cancer doesn’t always have to be bad. It’s possible to catch it early. If you’re doing your screenings and being vigilant, it can be curable.”
Have a story to share about breast cancer research? Visit our 25 for Research portal to share your story or nominate someone today.