Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Survivor’s Story

Lisa Carlile’s favorite color is pink.

Her life’s work centers around breast cancer examination, working as a mammography technologist and sonographer at MaryEllen Locher Breast Center in Chattanooga.

“It’s a privilege to care for the women and men in the midst of diagnosis,” she says.

Lisa Carlile, breast cancer survivor.

Each October, Carlile is part of the MaryEllen Locher Breast Center team that walks the Komen Chattanooga Race for the Cure.

“My mother had breast cancer and I always walked in her honor. Race for the Cure is an event the MELBC family does as a team. I’ve participated ever since I came to MELBC, and I’ve always participated in breast cancer walks. It’s just second nature because of my work,” says Carlile.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation addresses breast cancer on multiple fronts, such as research and community health, to make the biggest impact against breast cancer.

“Race for the Cure is always an extraordinary experience full of excitement, energy, laughter and tears. It is people coming together to celebrate lives of courageous survivors and honor the memory of loved ones,” she adds.

In May of 2016, Carlile scheduled a regular screening, much like the ones she conducts for other patients on a daily basis.

Her results detected breast cancer.

“The type of cancer I had manifests as tiny grains of sand that are too small to feel. That mammogram saved my life.”

Carlile says her initial reaction was one of concern for her family and their emotional responses to her diagnosis. But as a medical professional trained in breast cancer, Carlile says her journey was different than that of most patients.

“I knew exactly what to expect and what to be prepared for. This time, however, the patient was me.”

Carlile chose a bilateral mastectomy, foregoing other treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy.

The 2016 Komen Walk, only weeks after her surgery, was her first as a survivor.

Breast cancer is something I deal with every day on the job, but seeing literally hundreds of survivors and family members gathering together to support this cause and each other, celebrate life and fight together… that’s pretty overwhelming.”

Her diagnosis has brought her closer to the cancer patients who lean on her for guidance and support.

“Now that I am on the other side of the journey, I feel that I have a greater connection; a new perspective. I have walked in their shoes. I understand how they’re feeling.”

Carlile is now preparing for her second Komen Walk as a survivor on October 22nd.

“The Komen Foundation touches so many. Many of the cancer patients I have cared for received their imaging because of Komen. We can’t stop until breast cancer does.”

If you’d like to participate in the 2017 Women Walk, details can be found here.

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