Paulette Ballard

A moment from Haley Carter

I'm here to tell you about a real “pink lady.” Not the “pink ladies” from the movie “Grease,” but a kind of pink lady who learned she had a huge battle to fight. She was the one-in-eight diagnosed with breast cancer. Her name is Kerrie, and she is my wonderful mother.

I remember when she was diagnosed. It was close to my 13th birthday. I know firsthand what it is like to watch my mother get the news she was no longer invincible.

My mother was 44 and in the best shape of her life. She had joined Weight Watchers to learn to eat better and she had lost 16 pounds and was looking great.

One morning while in the shower, she felt an unusual lump in her left breast.

Two mammograms, a sonogram and one biopsy later, she found herself on the other end of a phone call hearing the news.

“You have breast cancer,” her doctor said.

These were horrifying words for my mother because she had watched breast cancer ravage and ultimately take the life of her grandmother in 1981.

It is truly amazing that the “two” things that make a woman feel sexy and beautiful can be the very things that makes her sick.

My mother spent years growing up on the beach in California and wearing very flattering swimsuits. Yes, she liked to show off “the girls” occasionally, what girl wouldn't want attention now and then? But this devastating diagnosis changed all that.

Breast cancer detection and treatment has come a long way since 1981. She would have surgery, six treatments of chemotherapy and 33 days of radiation. Weekly shots, being physically sick, having no energy, losing her long, beautiful hair and feeling tired all the time followed.

There were good and bad days for her and our entire family, but what I remember most was her courage. Kerrie Carter is a strong woman, and she was determined not to be defeated by this cancer.

On July 19, my mother will be a nine-year breast cancer survivor. She has the battle scars to prove it, but she is still alive and well because she caught it early.

I have two sisters, and the odds are that we also are at risk. All we can do is live healthfully, do regular breast checks ourselves and be aware. You should, too. It is a matter of life and death.

Paulette Ballard collects moving, funny or interesting everyday stories from people in the area. If you have a story you would like to submit, email Include your name and telephone number.