Courtney Roberts and Carol Brickell

Courtney Roberts and Carol Brickell

This Lake Highlands woman has made a lasting mark on the world, a legacy that will save lives, even as she is losing hers.

Carol Brickell, a children’s book author and outspoken advocate for lung cancer research, has announced she is entering hospice care.

It’s been understood for a while now that doctors tend to take men’s health concerns more seriously than women’s. Women have to push harder and advocate more for proper healthcare.

I’ve met at least a couple influential women in my work at The Advocate magazine who have fought in this way for themselves and, later, others whose voices were meeker.

Carol is one of those women, and now she says she has surrendered the fight against the cancer in her body.

She wrote a children’s book, Cinco the Clinic Cat, whose 10th anniversary edition is now available (here or at Target, Amazon) and donated the profits to charity.

She came up with the book idea while volunteering to help poor sick children in Honduras. And that’s just the first time I heard of her, merely one of her many contributions.

In 2018, suffering a chronic cough, Carol went to a couple of medical professionals who did not seem to take her concerns seriously, but she knew something was very wrong, as she explains in this article in the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.

She was right.

A couple months ago I caught up with Carol about her book’s milestone and her new calling as a career coach.

She said she had lung cancer and that she was writing wig reviews after having lost her hair to the cancer therapy.

And while the importance of prosthetic hair when you lose yours cannot be understated, she was doing so much more than that.

Through her own persistence — from demanding further testing that would reveal cancer to insisting on being seen by a specialist within a reasonable timeframe, Carol bought herself more time. Time to visit her daughters and grandchildren and to become a spokesperson for lung cancer research. Time to write letters to her congressmen, give speeches and share her story with other lung cancer patients.

Her struggle helped professionals and patients to understand the importance of biomarker testing, according to the LCFA. Last week Carol told her connections on Linkden that she was entering hospice care.

“Due to recent targeted genetic therapy treatments, I’ve been able to live a full life since that time,” she writes. “However, very recently, my cancer has spread to my liver and bile ducts and there is nothing more that can be done.” She adds that she is “at peace with that.” “I’ve had a wonderful life from beginning to end – and that is something beautiful.”

When I contacted Carol to get her permission to post this, she added that she is in a lovely facility, has entered into a sleepy phase and feels she is fading quickly.

Due to Carol’s persistence, doctors learned more about the least common of the lung cancer biomarkers, ROS1, which occurs in approximately 1-2% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. It tends to be aggressive and can spread to the brain and the bones. It tends to affect younger than average cancer sufferers and is more common in women who may have smoked at any point. Research related to this information helps prolong and improve mortality rates, according to the LCFA. Learn more about the foundation and donating here.