THE VIBE NWMISSOURIAN

THURSDAY | OCTOBER 6, 2011

A7

DESIGN | WENDY WHELAN

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION LORI FRANKENFIELD | NW MISSOURIAN

Carolyn Kozol stares down at a photo of her, her mother Teri and her sister Katie in front of all of her Ta-Ta Troopers. Carolyn’s mother died of breast cancer when Carolyn was still in high school. Approximately 40,000 people die each year due to breast cancer according to the CDC. Carolyn and her family raise money and participate in the Susan G. Komen walk for the cure.

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TREY WILLIAMS
Editor-in-Chief

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had. She said it has brought her family closer together. “It sucks not having my mom here, but I can’t change that and I only think that this happened to make me stronger,” Carolyn said. Strength is not a trait Carolyn always thought she had, but seeing her mom go through and endure what she had and the way she did gave the now 21-year-old Carolyn a new view on life. Looking back on the situation that changed her family dynamics, Carolyn has committed to memory and recalls the approximately two years worth of events as if it were just last week. “It was hard, my mom started getting sick in October 2004,” she said. “I remember it like crazy.” She sits on the couch, remembering the concert at which she had trouble breathing going up and down the stairs. They thought it was simply a case of upper respiratory issues. “She was sick for quite a while before she actually went in to figure out what was wrong with her,” Carolyn said. “She actually got diagnosed right after Christmas that year and it had spread to the lungs and the brain and it was already in stage four, so it was hard in that way. “The doctors were hopeful for her situation and they thought that she could beat it and all, but stage four is pretty hard to beat.” Though the battle for her mother’s life may have changed her for the better, it was not an easy battle to fight. “I felt like, ‘Why did I have to lose my mom when there are so many other bad things happening out there?’ I felt like people didn’t care about their parents so why did I have to lose my mom? I felt it was unfair. I felt like it wasn’t right.” Through all the hard times Carolyn and her family faced during her mom’s diagnoses, her treatment and her death, the memories that make Carolyn smile are the ones that show her true feelings toward her mother. “It was always said growing up, my mom was my number one fan,” Carolyn said with a slight smile. “No matter what, at softball games she would be sitting in the stands. I played center field and I could hear her all the way out in center field. “Even when she was sick, she would make it to 90 percent of my games.” Carolyn’s mother was one of approximately 40,000 people to die of breast cancer that year. Four people were left directly affected that day, Carolyn, her two sisters and their father. Now, every year, the Tata Troopers walk 60 miles for three days with 900 fellow walkers dedicated to the cause that is finding a cure. They walk for a cure, they walk to support others who have lost loved ones and they walk to remember the spirits of those whom they have lost. “I think every cancer story is different, but my mom did have a very aggressive kind of cancer,” Carolyn said, “But when she found out, her spirit didn’t change, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I have cancer, I’m gonna be depressed.’ “Her thought was, ‘I have cancer, I’m gonna beat this. I’m gonna get through this, I have three kids, I have a husband and I have a reason to live.’”

“Big or Small, Save Them All”

The color pink, representing breast cancer awareness, is spread throughout her room. Pictures of the mother she lost in frames marked with love line the desk where she does her schoolwork. Shirts donned with pink, sporting messages of breast cancer awareness, are neatly folded in her drawers. Her name is Carolyn Kozol and she is a member of the Tata Troopers, a group comprised of her and her two sisters who, every year, spend three days walking 60 miles, all in the name of breast cancer. Her support of breast cancer and desire to raise awareness is undeniable. However, her feelings concerning the disease that kills about 40,000 people yearly according to the CDC, did not come about until her mother, Teri, was diagnosed Carolyn’s freshman year of high school and died two years later. “I think about it constantly, I mean, it’s hard not having her here for little things in our lives,” she said. “Sometimes I wish I could pick up the phone and call my mom like other people get to do, but I can’t. “I constantly keep pictures in my room and pictures on my computer of her, not that I’ll forget who she was, but just the memories that are in the pictures help remind me of who she was.” A parent passing away is hard, but for Carolyn it’s been, “a long hard road, but it’s been a sweet road too.” She said she’s learned so much from the whole experience. She said she has found strength in herself that she never knew she

“Fight Like A Woman” “Stop the war in my rack!”
“Saving 2nd Base”

“No they’re not real-the real ones tried to kill me!”