Carla Girod - Addicted to positivity

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Observer staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

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CARLA Girod, 53, has mastered the art of positivity, so much that despite what life throws her way, she maintains a smile and an upbeat spirit.

In fact, this is evident in her love for Christmas. This administrative officer at JMMB Foundation starts decorating her office from early November, and captures photographs of nature and sunrises with her cellphone whenever the opportunity presents itself. As part of her optimistic outlook, four years ago when she weighed 190 pounds, Girod decided to make a drastic change and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She lost 55 pounds and has managed to maintain a healthy 135 pounds up to this day.

This new lifestyle quickly became addictive and even saw her attending every fund run and 5k as a means of accountability and helping her stay on track.

“Initially it didn't come easy, and I started and stopped many times. I said if I was going to do this, I had to have a plan,” she said.

“At first I couldn't do much but walk, so I did that and found that the more I walked the more weight I lost. As I shed the pounds, I eventually began going to the gym to tone. This quickly became a habit for me and I adjusted my diet as well. I soon started running and fell in love with the different races.”

For Girod, she was healthy and feeling like her fittest self, but in an unfortunate turn of events, earlier this year she felt a lump in her right breast and paid a visit to her doctor.

“My last mammogram was done four years ago so I was overdue. After the mammogram and ultrasound, the doctor said it was a cyst on the right breast, which had a lump. But then he went to the left breast where I'd found absolutely no lump, and said he didn't like what he saw and ordered a fine-needle biopsy, which revealed that I had cancer in the left breast,” she said.

“My initial reaction was, it can't be true! Here it is that I changed my lifestyle, was exercising, eating healthy and feeling my best. I didn't feel sick. When you hear someone has cancer you think of them in pain, lying in bed, and that was not me. But I didn't stop running or exercising, it was just not my image.”

Girod added: “It is kind of ironic that the Pink Run is one of my favourite runs that I've always done to support breast cancer, and didn't imagine that having done Pink Run last year I'd be doing it this year as a survivor.”

Despite what she was now faced with, Girod drew on her positivity and inspiration from a late friend who had also battled cancer.

“I made a list. On my Wordpress blog, Miles To Go, I wrote about a friend who was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. She made a list of everything she wanted to do, as she had only six months. One of the things was getting our high school group back together which she managed to organise from California. I got a lot of inspiration from her. She died, but it was seven years later, and she accomplished everything on her list and created a new list and did most of what was on it,” she said.

Remembering this gave Girod more strength to fight, and on the same day of her diagnosis she got an appointment with a doctor who recommended that she remove the lumps and send them for further analysis, after which a mastectomy was recommended.

Before the mastectomy, Girod pointed out that she also did a test to determine the likelihood of the cancer spreading and family history, which came back negative, eliminating the need for a double mastectomy followed by chemotherapy.

Now approximately five weeks since her surgery, Girod said she will likely go through a lower dosage of chemotherapy as a preventative measure.

For those battling the disease, her message is to stay positive and try not to be overwhelmed by doom and gloom.

She still runs and hikes across different areas locally, does photography and even took some classes last year to improve her blogging skills. Her blog had started long before cancer as a form of therapy, but she now incorporates her diagnosis to encourage people to get tested.

This has resulted in over 20 people doing their mammograms and one individual finding an abnormality which is being investigated.

“Yes, it's half an hour of discomfort to do the mammogram, but to give you that ease and peace of mind, get tested.

Girod is grateful to her family and JMMB for their supportive messages — they even sent a Christmas basket to cheer her up after her surgery.

She is also grateful to her husband Andrew and daughters Kayla, Kelsey and Katrina for being her anchors.

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