Pursuing a passion while fighting for life
Dr. Stephanie Carroll has always been ambitious when encountering any obstacles in her life. Her perseverance eventually led her to graduate from Auburn University and gain her Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision.
Unfortunately, life for Carroll took an unexpected turn in 2013 when she began experiencing sudden hip and back pain. Then, at 32-years-old, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was told she only had eight months to live.
“I had been in physical pain for about seven months,” Caroll said. “Then for a doctor to say what is considered a death sentence and giving me about a year to live, there are mixed emotions.”
Her family became her rock while dealing with the news. Caroll says they decided to choose life instead of preparing for death.
Caroll says her mentor, Summer, was a blessing in her life. As a spiritual leader, she taught Caroll a powerful phrase that allowed her to see her life from a different perspective. Her new slogan was: “I win.”
“We are always going to face trials and tribulations in life,” Caroll said. “But I win if I get healing in whatever capacity there is here on Earth, or I win because I get the ultimate healing and I get to be home with the Father.”
Caroll has gone through six years of cancer treatment, doing injections, shots, oral chemotherapy and other types of treatments.
Wanting to achieve a better quality of life, she told the doctors that a hysterectomy was her next choice of fighting cancer. Although many were against it because of her young age, she knew that she wanted to do what was best for her health and wellness.
Despite cancer continuing to spread, she continues to fight for her family, for herself and for her passion to teach. Six years after her diagnosis, Carroll spends her time working at Palm Beach Atlantic University as an Assistant Professor in Counseling.
As a counselor, Carroll believes that managing mental health is an essential component in leading a healthy life.
“Every good therapist needs a therapist,” Carroll said. “There is a value and importance that counseling has, and it has been an integrated part of my story.”
Distress and feelings of depression are not uncommon among those who experience major life challenges such as a cancer diagnosis.
“One in three with cancer experience anxiety, depression, or an adjustment disorder,” according to a study taken from the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Many cancer patients who have struggled with the trauma of their illness have turned to faith in search of meaning and hope. Prayer came naturally for Carroll, who has let faith be her anchor throughout her life.
“I credit a majority of my strength to the Lord,” Caroll said. “Prayer has gotten me through all hardships in my life and has helped me throughout my treatment.”
Her faith has inspired her to continue her life with no regrets. One of her priorities includes raising awareness for breast cancer. Caroll spreads her message and provides platforms for others to share their breast cancer stories at various events such as the annual Komen Florida Race for the Cure.
By Isabella Pinel, Daniella Parra