In October, We Wear Pink!
October is an eventful month filled with various significance in South Florida and around the nation. Breast Cancer Awareness. Miami Carnival. One South Floridian woman delights in both celebrations. Meet Carla Hill, eight year breast cancer survivor and avid Carnivalian!
Following a self examination in 2005, Carla was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer and later found a small tumor through a mammogram.
“I knew that I had to work through the anger because I realized I had to go into a mode to save my life,”
Carla channeled her anger into fight and was determined to beat cancer rather than let it beat her. She made one of the most radical decisions of her life and received a double mastectomy and didn’t opt for reconstruction. As a young woman, Carla believed it was radical because people would think she would do anything in her power to have breasts in order to remain womanly.
“I was never defined by my breasts. The opportunity to be alive with my husband and family was more important than getting into a bra again.”
In order to fit into certain tops and dresses, Carla uses breast (silicone) prosthetics to fill in her bras when she goes out. In this ASSet and breast obsessed culture, it’s easy for a woman to feel insecure about her body. People use artificial enhancers to make their boobs and butts appear to be bigger than they are on a regular basis. From extra padded bras to chicken cutlets and butt implants, society is obsessed with physical appearance. Carla wears her breast prosthetics and Victoria’s Secret bras to give the illusion of having “something under there.”
“I wear breasts like earrings now. If the dress needs it, I’ll wear them. If not, I don’t.”
The pressure to always be a strong black woman causes a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when you’re dealing with a life-threatening illness. While finishing her undergrad career at FSU, Carla saw first hand the pains and tribulations that breast cancer can bring not only on the diagnosed but a family. From her mom’s successful battle with the illness, Carla was able to learn resilience, encouragement and perseverance.
“It’s okay to be angry. Don’t need to put up an invincible façade.”
Carla finds her happiness in the spirit and celebration of Carnival. A Trinidadian-American, Carla’s mother made sure her and her siblings had a sense of their heritage and Trinidadian culture. She loves mas. Whether she’s in costume or not, Carla loves to see the joy the Carnival brings. A huge soca and calypso fan, Carla praises the genre’s innotation and is enamored by their voices.
“I love to see people break away and they just totally let loose.”
When she does decide to play mas, Carla doesn’t hold back on her costumes. She picks the band and section with colors that reflect the energy she wants to convey on carnival day. Carla has learned how to rig her carnival bikini top to look as “normal” as the other breast-filled costumes. She’s able to jump and wave and get on bad without any worries about any wardrobe malfunctions.
“I’m not worried about the breasts. I’m worried about my waistline that can easily be controlled by not eating Krispy Kreme!”
Carla shines as a beacon of hope to both breast cancer patients and survivors alike.
“Use the opportunity of people staring (if you lost hair, for example), to give them an example of strength. It’s not easy all the time. Allow yourself to be angry or sad sometimes. But remind yourself that being alive to feel those emotions is a blessing in itself.”