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Today we are starting a cancer warrior spotlight series on the blog. We wanted to share the real stories of survivors. Cancer gives us a unique perspective on life that deserves to be shared. Today, we are featuring Rebecca Carpino. Rebecca has a remarkable story. She was diagnosed with two different types of cancers during the same year. Yep, you heard me right! While she was still battling Ewing Sarcoma, thyroid cancer showed up on her PET scan. After 78 days overnight in the hospital, 31 days of radiation, 30 home infusions, 30 days of outpatient, 10 blood/platelet transfusion, 6 doctors, 19 rounds of chemo, 2 surgeries, AND TWO CANCERS (!!!) Rebecca is cancer free!
Tell us about finding out you had cancer and what that was like?
Hearing about my first cancer was really like a punch in the stomach and it knocked all the air out of me. I thought I had a timeline on my life. I had no idea what I would be facing. It wasn’t until I had all the facts and information presented to me and started treatment that I felt more confident. The first week I found out was filled with questions, fear, and tears.
Do you have a quote that gives you strength?
Probably cliché but I have a few…
“God only gives you what you can handle”
“Everything happens for a reason”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
“It could always be way worse than what it already is”
If you could give one piece of advice to people who are trying to support a friend with cancer what would that be?
Stay involved and ask how they are feeling/doing. I found strength in numbers and support. It never bothered me when people would ask questions. I knew that they cared. Visits to the hospital, phone calls, texts, messages, hugs, food, get well baskets, etc. are very helpful in supporting a friend with cancer
Can you tell us about someone in your life that has given you the most encouragement?
I have many of those people! I can tell you about a few in particular. My parents have never left my side and were next to me every day. Also, I have two friends that are like brothers to me. They called and texted me every other day and still do! I have built such a close relationship with them. One of them had cancer himself and tried to pass on the encouragement and advice to me. I wish I could list everyone, but so many individuals have given me some kind of support and encouragement. I have built many friendships during cancer.
Has cancer changed you? If so, in what way?
Yes, very much so! I have grown to be such a strong person. I have more confidence. I don’t worry like I used to and nothing phases me anymore. I’ve gained many new friends and have a different perspective of people and of life. I’m much more positive and feel like I was given a second chance at life.
What advice would you give someone that was newly diagnosed?
I have a few: stay positive, pray, trust your doctors, and ask questions. The more informed, the less you are scared. You will feel stronger. Whatever you do… DO NOT GOOGLE! Instead ask your doctor the questions. They have a treatment plan according to your cancer. Reach out to people. I was very open about everything. I would tell anyone that would listen and for the most part they stuck around. You might find some people that you thought would be there for you can’t handle it and just bail. I have had that happen. Also, I continued to work full-time during treatment and I think the distraction helped me. Finally, take one day at a time. Think about the present.