Posted October 4, 2022

Carmen Pace, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered

Carmen Pace
Carmen Pace
(Photo Provided)

After spending four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Gulf War, I began working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) while studying for my bachelor's degree in nursing at the University of Oklahoma. That is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was only 42 years old and in complete disbelief that I could have breast cancer at such a young age. My treatment began with a mastectomy, followed with eight rounds of chemotherapy. Following my treatments, genetic testing determined I was positive for the Breast Cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), which led to prophylactic risk-reducing surgeries.

In 2012, I began volunteering with Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE). As time went on, FORCE recommended that I serve on advisory panels for a few national research organizations. Currently, I am a Community Support Volunteer and Secretary of FORCE's Executive Board. I learned of the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) through a friend, Angel Moses, who is also a member of FORCE, and later I was presented with the opportunity to serve as a consumer reviewer for BCRP.

Although serving as a consumer reviewer for the BCRP is a lot of work, it sheds light on the research being done for the various types of breast cancer. I am impressed the BCRP does not focus on just one type of breast cancer, which is of great importance to patients. It is apparent the BCRP panel members are dedicated to the research to understand the causes and progression of breast cancer, ways to improve patient care, and saving lives of breast cancer patients.

My advice to the breast cancer community is to be your own advocate, learn about your situation and what works for you, and speak up for yourself. Be certain to pay attention to your body and seek other medical professional opinions, if necessary. It may not be easy, but you can get through this.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision.

Last updated Tuesday, October 4, 2022