Politics & Government

Rep. Carney faced sudden cardiac death 9 years ago. Now, she has a new health challenge.

State Rep. Becky Carney of Charlotte, second from left, is greeted by Rep. Gale Adcock, left, and Rep. Mickey Michaux, right, as she made her first appearance on the N.C. House floor after open heart surgery in 2015. Carney announced Wednesday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
State Rep. Becky Carney of Charlotte, second from left, is greeted by Rep. Gale Adcock, left, and Rep. Mickey Michaux, right, as she made her first appearance on the N.C. House floor after open heart surgery in 2015. Carney announced Wednesday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. News & Observer file photo

Each year more than 6,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in North Carolina, according to state statistics.

This year, state Rep. Becky Carney is one of them.

“Get your checkups,” Carney said Thursday morning about her diagnosis.

Carney said when she had a mammogram doctors found a small lump that she had removed in a lumpectomy in April.

Afterward, she had a full body bone scan and CT scan, which determined there were no signs of cancer anywhere else, she said.

As a preventative measure, Carney will start chemotherapy and then do radiation to protect against any potential cancer cells, she said.

"It is not a death sentence," the Mecklenburg Democrat said on the House floor Wednesday when she announced her diagnosis.

Carney has faced health issues before, including sudden cardiac death in 2009 and open heart surgery in 2015, when doctors implanted a left ventricular assist device. The LVAD is a mechanical pump that delivers blood from the left ventricle to the aorta and on to the rest of the body.

Carney has not yet started chemo because doctors have to balance her blood thinner medications for the LVAD with treatment, she said.

She expects to start chemo as soon as next week.

During chemo treatments, Carney said she plans to use the DigniCap Scalp Cooling System to keep some of her hair. That system circulates coolant through a tight cap on the scalp, keeping it cold during chemotherapy treatment and helping prevent hair from falling out.

State Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, tweeted Wednesday that Carney "will be in all our prayers."

Carney says she is “determined and a fighter.”

She also said she is fortunate to have access to good health care and health insurance.

“As a policy maker we have to do better with affordable health care for everybody,” Carney said.

She said the response from fellow House members on Wednesday after her announcement was “overwhelming."

Many colleagues told her they were cancer survivors.

“We’re elected officials, but we’re also humans that have our challenges,” she said.

Cassie Cope: 704-358-5926, @cassielcope, Lauren Horsch: 919-836-2801, @LaurenHorsch
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