NEW BRITAIN – When Bianca Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer two days before her 30th birthday in May, her husband’s cousin Loretta Rivers didn’t think twice about jumping in to support the younger woman.
Rivers, 56-year-old New Britain resident who is the mother of former City Council member Tremell Collins, is in remission for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“God kept me here for a reason,” Rivers said.
Carter, an East Hartford resident and mother to 3-year-old Isaiah, had no family history of breast cancer. She had her first mammogram after finding a lump. Rivers saw Carter’s Facebook post about the diagnosis and decided to reach out to the younger woman and the two went from distant relatives to close friends.
“I started going to the doctor with her and encouraging her,” Rivers said.
Although she initially had a lumpectomy, Carter had to later undergo aggressive chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. “It was really scary,” she admitted. “I was so emotional. I was afraid I was going to be taken away from my son, thankfully my mom and my friends were able to take care of him.”
She just recently had reconstruction surgery and will undergo five weeks of radiation therapy.
She is determined to tell her story to raise awareness that breast cancer can happen to younger women, even when they are physically active and eat a healthy diet like she did. “One of the greatest things that I learned to remain faithful and positive,” Carter said.
Since Rivers knew the emotional and financial impact of dealing with cancer, she decided to throw a “Bianca Strong” fundraising event at the Elks Lodge in New Britain in November to help with expenses and show Carter how much her friends and family wanted to support her.
“It was heartwarming,” Carter said. “Here you are battling this nasty disease and you have to consider, how am I going to pay for this?”
Rivers and family and friends raised $7,165 for the Bianca Strong Cancer Fund. “That’s what it’s all about,” Rivers said. “If you are blessed to have someone help you, then you should turn around and help someone else. If I can help anyone else going through any type of cancer, that’s what I’m here for.”
Now Carter is hoping to pay to forward by helping others who are dealing with breast cancer. “I’d like to raise awareness and do something for other young moms who are going through this,” Carter said. “If I can pay it forward and help others that’s what I’d like to do.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.