“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
These two scriptures got Carla Herrod through one of the roughest times of her life. Twenty years ago, on March 1999, Herrod, while in her 30s, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I worked at Kruger International, where we made tables,” she said. “And, I was losing weight, and when I would pick up a table, it would hit my breasts, and they would be so tender and sore.” She said she couldn’t figure out why this was happening, and one day told her boss that was she was going to check it out. She did.
“I went to the Cancer Center in Grenada, and they told me I had to get some biopsies,” Herrod said.
She said her mom Dorothy Herrod and her sister, Anita Herrod-Ware, were with her when she received the news – it was breast cancer.
“It was between my breasts on my bone plate,” she said. “I had to have surgery so they could see if they could remove cancer, but they couldn’t,” Herrod said, explaining her diagnosis was a shock. “I knew I was losing weight, but I wasn’t taking any diet pills or anything. But, I never thought it would be cancer.”
After she learned of her diagnosis, she was all in. Herrod was willing to do whatever it took to live. Herrod said she was told by her doctor, Dr. Furhan Yunus, that she would lose her hair. “And, he was right. I was combing my hair one day, and it just all came out in my comb.”
She said she had an IV port surgically inserted because she couldn’t take her chemo in her veins.
“They said my veins were too little,” she said. “I took three bags. One red one – they call it the ‘red devil’ and two clear bags. I started at 7:30 a.m. [and it lasted] until 1:30 p.m. When I took it the first day, I was fine. The next day, I was sick. I couldn’t eat anything. I couldn’t drink anything. It came right back up. I had to take it every 21 days.”
She said she was sent to the University of Tennessee Boston-Baskin Cancer Center, now the Baptist Cancer Center in Memphis. Herrod said they told her what steps she would have to take. She said she was told she would have to take six rounds of chemotherapy.
“I said, ‘Okay, I’m fine with it. I have a son I have to live for, whatever it takes for me to live,’” she said.
Herrod said she was told she was one of the youngest patients that had breast cancer.
She said every day before her appointments, she would pray for five minutes.
“I would tell the Lord, ‘It’s in your hands, Lord. Heal me.’ And I would go into my appointment. You have to keep a positive mindset. Cancer is all in the mind, you may have it, but it doesn’t have to have you.”
Herrod said after three rounds of chemotherapy, she had more tests run and was told that her chemo would have to continue, and she said okay.
“I said, ‘I’m fine with it. Whatever it takes for me to live.’”
She said being humble, seeing the positive in things, and reciting Psalm 121:1-2 and Isaiah 53:5 gave her strength and kept her going.
“When I found out, my momma and sister cried. But I didn’t cry. I was shocked, but I didn’t cry. I was willing to do whatever it took for me to live,” she said.
Twenty years later, Herrod said two years ago, in August 2017, she was taken off all of her cancer medicine.
“I had to go back through more chemo, but it’s the good chemo, not the bad one. It was to make sure that my bones stay strong,” she said, adding so she won’t relapse.
Herrod said she has trouble with her feet because of how long she took her cancer medicine.
“I would meditate and pray, always pray. I still do, you have to,” she said.
Herrod said her church family Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Vaiden was a huge support system for me during that time and her family also.
“I have a twin sister, she helped me a lot, and I have two brothers, but they stay in Atlanta. They helped me out, too,” she said.
But, there are a few other people that she said had to thank who helped her a lot.
“I have to thank Mrs. Susan Robertson, Vickie Robertson-Ratliff, Chelsea Green, Mrs. Penny, and Latia Butts. Especially, Mrs. Susan, she was really inspirational to me. She helped me through a lot.”