Brave and Beautiful
In June 2020, Aly Carpenter, a 46-year-old Beaumont, Texas resident, went to her annual gynecologic exam. Since age 40, she also had a mammogram during these appointments. This visit was no exception — but this time, her physician noticed something abnormal in her right breast. Aly had additional testing, including a second mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy before testing positive for stage 1B breast cancer.
“I was shocked,” Aly says. “I had no family history of breast cancer, and all my previous mammograms had come back clear.” Aly had a difficult decision to make. While her breast surgeon suggested a lumpectomy, which removes the cancerous breast tissue, she had a strong gut feeling that removing both breasts was the better option. She ultimately decided to undergo a double mastectomy in September 2020.
“When they removed the tumor, they discovered it was larger than originally thought,” Aly says. “My blood work came back showing I had triple-negative breast cancer, which is one of the most dangerous and aggressive types. This explained how the tumor grew so quickly between testing and surgery. I’m grateful that I stood my ground and advocated for my health.”
FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY
Aly’s double mastectomy was followed by 20 weeks of chemotherapy to eradicate any cancer cells left behind after surgery. Despite dealing with a difficult diagnosis, all during a pandemic, Aly was able to stay positive and cherish many special moments.
“Right after my diagnosis and before my surgery, I got married,” Aly says. “It was a no-brainer at that time. We thought, ‘Why wait?’ One of the employees at my work was an ordained minister. He officiated a simple, low-key wedding for just my husband and me.”
Her husband was also unexpectedly out of work, but it was actually good news because he was then able to use that time to care for her and take her to doctor appointments.
“We had all this one-on-one time together,” Aly says. “He was there to help me through a hard recovery after surgery. It strengthened our bond. Everything fell into place.”
IMPRESSED WITH CARE
Today, Aly is doing much better. While she is still working to regain her energy, she says she feels a greater sense of normalcy every day. “I can’t thank my team at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas enough,” Aly says. “I was contemplating going to a larger cancer center. I even set up an appointment. But again, I didn’t feel right about it. At CHRISTUS, I found a caring oncologist with the best bedside manner. And I couldn’t have made it through chemotherapy without the amazing nurses. This was the right choice for me.”