Survivor Story

In 1991 the Dow Jones Industrial average topped 3,000 for the first time, Kevin Durant was 3, and the price for a dozen eggs was 85 cents.

In 1991, Carla Stoddard (front row, 4th from left) was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, called Burkitt.  The odds were not in her favor. She was given a 25% chance of survival. If she opted to have an experimental bone marrow transplant, her odds improved to 50/50. And to make matters worse, it was 1991 and our understanding of various forms of cancer and how to treat them had not yet benefited from millions of dollars, advancing research.

Advancing Research. If you were wondering how much difference 25 years, millions of dollars, and the greatest minds on the planet have made, a Google search (not very scientific, full transparency) says the recommended treatment for Burkitt Lymphoma is no longer a bone marrow transplant and the survival rate in adults has jumped from 25% to 70-80%. This is the undeniable value of cancer research.

Carla’s memory of the day she was diagnosed is somewhat vague. But, after all, it was a lifetime ago. A lifetime ago.

Having very few good options, Carla opted for the experimental bone marrow procedure, which very likely saved her life. She was uplifted throughout her battle by the love of family and friends. After multiple weeks in isolation, she was released to go home. The battle behind her, she continued to live.

On September 4, 2017, it will have been 25 years since the bone marrow transplant that saved her life. For Carla, who is an educator at North Carolina Central University, that means another quarter of a century of teaching students, impacting lives, changing futures. Thousands of futures.

While Coach Yow would be the very first to say that Carla’s story is just that—Carla’s story, it is hard to tell Carla’s story without drawing a very significant parallel to Coach Yow. After all, Carla knew Coach Yow before.

Before Coach Yow coached the 1988 US Women’s Basketball team to Olympic gold.

Before Coach Yow led the Wolfpack to their first Final Four appearance.

Before she was a Naismith Hall of Fame coach.

Before the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Before cancer.

Carla and Coach Yow knew each other in a simpler time. Carla was the Athletic Trainer serving the Wolfpack Women prior to Coach Yow’s 1987 diagnosis with breast cancer. By the time Carla was diagnosed in 1991, Coach Yow had beaten cancer—once.

The amazing part of the story for both women is really not that they once beat cancer. It is that, in every way imaginable, they both beat cancer thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times over.

Each individual’s win against cancer has a multiplier—the lives touched after cancer. Lives that will go on to celebrate wins of their own. Hope is magnified by each additional life touched. At this point there have been more lives touched since cancer first appeared on the scene than we can count. But then again, it was a lifetime ago.

To donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, click here.

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