Faces of a Warrior: Carol Toomer

Stories of Surviving and Thriving

July 17, 2016

Age: 53
Profession: Chef
Type of Breast Cancer: Inflammatory Breast Cancer Stage 4
Number of years as a survivor: 8 years
Relationship to Susan G. Komen: Focus Group Participant for Susan G. Komen

My name is Carol and I am a breast cancer survivor. I have always been a lover a music, so it’s no surprise that when I got the call from my doctor telling me I had Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I was driving home listening to oldies on the radio and singing my heart out. I was so surprised by the news that I almost hit the bus in front of me. Up to that point, I had faced so many obstacles in my life - I grew up with clubbed feet and was bullied so much as a teen. So when I received my diagnosis, there was a moment where I thought breast cancer would be my way out of a lifetime of suffering. It never occurred to me that I would survive. 

Being a survivor changed my life for the better. It allowed me to put my life into perspective and taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Compared to breast cancer, the small things I used to worry about just weren’t as important as I used to think they were. This diagnosis has also made me realize that I want to make a difference in the lives of other women, I want every woman to be aware of their breast health. 

Right now, eight years into my breast cancer journey, I feel like I am in the best place I have ever been in in my life. I am enjoying being me and loving myself so much more now that I have embraced God and turned my life around. It was this faith in God that kept me going throughout my journey. That and the love of my family. 

I couldn’t have made it without the unconditional love from my granddaughters, Kaiyla and Kandace, and my grandson Denny Trey. My daughter Kyra has been my “wing girl” every step of the way, showing me how to be strong when I couldn’t. She made me feel like a beautiful swan when I felt like an ugly duckling. My son-in-law, Denny, has also been a tremendous source of support. I am also very fortunate to have an awesome relationship with my sister, Willette. She always reminds me that no matter how dark it is now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her love overwhelms me. She’s also given me the best brother-in-law in the world, James. For each of them, I am forever grateful. 

You hear a lot about what you have to “give up” when you find out you have cancer. But I refused to give up coffee and candy, my friendly personality, dressing up, and laughing. In fact, humor got me through my toughest days. I’ve been lucky to have the support of so many of my family and friends through 31 cancer-related surgeries. They have brought much-needed light to some of my darkest days. Some days, depression tries to rear its ugly head, but my faith, humor and love keep me strong. My mother always taught me the importance of being a strong woman. Breast cancer has taught me how very strong I am.

About the Faces of a Warrior Campaign

Last year, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Race for the Cure®, Susan G. Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale teamed with 101.5 LITE FM to launch the Faces of a Warrior campaign. 

To mark the 21st Annual Race for the Cure®, Komen is spotlighting 21 survivors to represent each year the Race has run. These individuals are sharing their stories of strength and resilience -- not just of surviving breast cancer, but thriving in spite of it.

Read the stories of more Warriors here

For more information on the Faces of a Warrior campaign -- and other ways you can get involved in the Race for the Cure® -- please email info@komenmiaftl.org or call 954-909-0454