Giving back was not top of mind when Carrie Madrid was diagnosed with breast cancer. A single mother of three living paycheck to paycheck, she didn’t have much herself. But the thought of other cancer patients not being able to pay their rent or put food on the table because they chose to spend that money on treatment copayments didn’t sit well with her.
Fighting for the underdog.
A year after her diagnosis, Carrie started a non-profit to help cancer patients pay their bills. She relied on her skills in fundraising, and the help of family and friends to start and fund the non-profit. It has now been functioning for nine years!
“There are other breast cancer organizations in my area. But what I found is, they have support groups, they have wig banks, they can get you a prosthesis and a mastectomy bra, but they don’t help pay bills. And for me, I didn’t care about a wig. I didn’t care about a prosthesis. I needed to feed my kids. I needed to keep the heat on. I needed to have my cell phone on to do what I needed to do. Gas cards to get back and forth from radiation.”~ Carrie Madrid
Find yourself a mentor.
Support groups are important for connection. Finding someone outside your immediate family/friend circle that you can talk to helps you see someone else doing what you’re wanting to do. Whatever it may be, when we see someone else who has done what we want to do, it makes it easier to accomplish our goals.
Groups for the same cancers are especially important. The people in those groups are easier to relate to because they’re on the same drugs, experiencing similar symptoms, and getting through each day like you are. It’s not to say that people with different cancers can’t be understanding or supportive, but their experience may be vastly different from yours.
Breast cancer isn’t gender-specific and neither is giving back.
One thing I have talked about on my podcast and in live presentations is that men get breast cancer too. They often face a very different set of circumstances and outcomes too. This includes everything from how they are treated at the mammography center to finding a medical team to treat them.
Things like medical billing and coding procedures can mean the difference between a treatment or drug being covered or not simply because it is coded as a “woman’s disease”.
Giving back evolves.
The Care Project started out as a way to help patients pay bills, but it has evolved. A social group was added to help people connect and mentor others coming up behind them. Social events followed. A book, called Handle with Care came later as a manual for how to deal with different aspects as they came up. And finally, a podcast where survivors can share their stories.
We don’t always know how to make something we want happen. We just have an idea that would help others in the world. When you release that idea into the world, you may be surprised at how it evolves. This is living a life of purpose.
A cancer diagnosis is not like any other disease. It is traumatic. It makes people take a long hard look at their own mortality. It’s something no one likes to think about and often drives those closest to us to run for the hills.
Giving grace means forgiving them for their iniquities and not judging them for being human. And it means giving back to yourself in the form of peace, free of expectations.
Here are some of my favorite moments from this episode:
- 1:56 Carrie’s cancer extravaganza.
- 5:48 Be careful what you ask for.
- 7:59 There’s never a good time.
- 9:55 The Care Project.
- 21:17 Finding a social club for support.
- 23:34 Breast cancer is not gender specific.
- 28:51 Writing Handle with Care.
- 35:15 You’re not in control.
- 38:03 Living with a sense of purpose.
- 47:48 On not knowing how it will all work out.
- 49:50 Handle with Care Podcast.
- 57:32 Big transitions in 2022.
- 01:01 Giving others grace.
Links you might find helpful:
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If you’re stressed about what to eat check out episode 34 with Cathy Leman, RD or episode 35 where I talk about food rules vs. food values. Episode 19 and episode 30 were about balancing components of an anti-cancer lifestyle. Episodes 25, 31, and 32 were about helping you find ways to heal your soul through Reiki and healing touch, writing, and art therapy.