Jenna Greenfield – LRHS News
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – As breast cancer awareness comes to a close and the pink ribbons get tucked away until next October, it’s important to remember that breast cancer is a very prevalent disease and there are real people behind the diagnoses.
One story of these individuals hits close to home as LRHS’ Cafeteria Manager Carolyn Henderson who has worked at the school since it opened in 1998. Henderson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.
Henderson realized her condition on a day like any other.
“I was swimming and we were playing with a beach ball. As I went to catch it, I felt a lump. Before that I had warning signs I wasn’t even aware of, like having great fatigue,” she said.
Despite the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation Henderson spent great time and energy enduring, she continued working at LRHS.
“When I was diagnosed I was shocked and cried a lot but three weeks after my surgeries I came back to work everyday to get out of that slump,” Henderson said. “My kids were teenagers and they just didn’t know what to do so I came back to work and tried to make life as normal as possible. I also took up tennis which was a good outlet.”
“Just find something that makes you feel at peace,” she said of anyone else who may be diagnosed, “I even found old comedy shows to make me feel better. Also stay away from negative people, even family members. The best thing you can do is avoid stress.”
Henderson also emphasized breast cancer awareness is critical.
“Years back it was like we couldn’t say the word breast. The death rate was higher when I was younger. Then some people stepped forward and since then awareness and surgeries have improved.
“You have to fight back,” Henderson said, “and fighting back means not letting it take over your life. I didn’t like people asking if I was okay at the time because I didn’t want it to define me.”
Henderson found her greatest support through the process came from her fellow staff at LRHS.
“My staff here, my friends always were there to talk,” Henderson said, “One of them even went to the chemo appointments with me. They’re like a family.”