Vicksburg’s breast cancer survivor and volunteer again in cancer battle of her own

Published 5:45 pm Saturday, October 20, 2018

Pearl Carter continues to fight tirelessly for herself and others in the battle against cancer.

She is again undergoing chemotherapy in her personal cancer battle.

A multiple cancer survivor, Carter is an active volunteer for the American Cancer Society, participating in the local Relay for Life, as a volunteer working with breast cancer patients, a spokesperson and lobbyist for the American Cancer Society.

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“In 1990, I had breast cancer, and a year later in 1991 I attended my first Relay for Life and was drafted as a Reach to Recovery Program volunteer to work with other ladies who have breast cancer,” Carter said.

Reach to Recovery, she said, is the American Cancer Society’s program for women going through breast cancer.

“When I had cancer, it was a wake up call, like it is for every body; I was very surprised. I had a Reach and Recovery volunteer who met with me, Betty Fletcher, and she was so good and so helpful.

“She was the one who recommended me to be a Reach to Recovery volunteer,” Carter said.

“To be a Reach to Recovery volunteer, you have to have had breast cancer, and it has to be at least one year from the time you had your treatment, and your doctor has to approve you.”

She has also worked with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better Program, helping women going through treatment and with their wigs and makeup and other assistance.

Since her first diagnosis of cancer, Carter has had several other battles with the disease, having a skin cancer removed in the 1990s, and having breast cancer again in 2014.

She has also been dealing with a leukemia diagnosis since 2010.

Carter, who retired in 1999 from the Waterway Experiment Station (now known as the Engineer Research and Development Center), has served as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.

“Although I haven’t spoke as much recently,” Carter said. “In the past, I’ve done a lot of programs at different places — nursing homes, churches, worked a lot of health fairs.”

In 2004, she became involved with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which is the sister agency to the American Cancer Society and its advocacy arm that lobbies state legislators and Congress for funding for other cancer issues.

“I’m currently the lead advocate for the 2nd Congressional District,” Carter said. “I go to Washington every September to lobby for whatever issues we are promoting that year, (and) every year, it’s for research funding. Then we go to the state legislature when they meet and do the same.”

Along with 600 fellow ASCAN volunteers, Carter recently returned from Washington D.C. and met with members of the Mississippi congressional delegation, including Congressman Benny Thompson, to discuss funding legislation in the fight against cancer.

She vows to continue to fight the battle for advocacy for as long as she can.

“We can fight this disease that takes so much from so many of us,” Carter said. “I have seen much progress over the years, but the battle is far from won.”