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Carolyn Tran

Two of Carolyn Tran’s sisters have had breast cancer. So, it was no surprise that when she went to Harris Health Martin Luther King for her regular check-up in January, she was referred to Smith Clinic for a mammogram. Radiologists saw something in her right breast and ordered a needle biopsy. A week later, she received the diagnosis: breast cancer.

The words were jarring. “I felt empty,” she says. “I wondered what would happen to me. Then I decided I couldn’t worry about it. I stayed positive.” Still, she lost 20 pounds as she went through treatment.

She had surgery at Ben Taub Hospital to remove tissue, a second surgery two weeks later, then three-and-a-half weeks of radiation therapy at Smith Clinic. She finished in July.

She is proud to say, “I’m good! Everyone took very good care of me. I feel happy I’m still alive. Everything is good for me. Now I come for follow-up.

“My friends were surprised I didn’t worry or act sad. They were worried about me, but I was okay. I have a great husband and good kids who helped me.”

Carolyn’s sons are 34 and 32; her daughter, Jacklynn, is 12. Jacklynn sometimes noticed that her mom felt weak, but “usually she was very strong. She was a good example of how to be strong.”

Strength is important in Carolyn’s family. In Vietnam, her mother had 11 children before she passed away from cancer at age 39. Carolyn came to the United States at age 17 and met her future husband in high school. It was a family affair – she and her sister married brothers. She stopped working as a hairdresser to care for her mother-in-law.

When the disease found Carolyn, she was determined it would not slow her down. She loves being active, eating out, going to church, praying with friends. “I knew I would get well because of all the prayers,” she says.

Carolyn encourages others who are sick. “Don’t worry so much. Think, ‘I’m good.’ Get out in the sun. Be with friends. Get involved. Enjoy life and the people around you.”