Shirlene Austin Carter was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia last year. That day she had gone to the ER because she was dehydrated. She said she did not have any other symptoms.
"Something didn't look right with my blood work, so they decided to keep me overnight and came back the next day. (They said) you have leukemia," she remembered.
Carter said she couldn't believe it. She was numb. Her oldest daughter, Shirelle Austin, couldn't believe it either.
"When they first said (it), we were all in the hospital together and when they first said (it) I was scared," Austin said.
Austin said she felt better after she found out the type of leukemia her mother had was treatable.
Austin stepped into her mother's role, immediately, while Carter was in the hospital. Carter went through chemotherapy and lost her hair. She said she felt exhausted and was at the hospital for 30 days at a time. At first, the hospital staff wanted to keep her there for a year. Carter also went to an outpatient center five days a week for several hours in order to receive chemotherapy.
"I have to live. I have too much I have to do. I didn't focus on cancer. I focused on everything else," Carter said.
Her children are 6, 8, 16, and 21. She also has two grandchildren.
Carter said this took a toll on her emotionally.
"That part of it, the mental and emotional part of it outweighs the physical aspect of it and for me, I had children and all I could think was what about my children," she said.
"She was more tired or there were some days the medicine would have her talking and then out of nowhere she'd be (a)sleep," Austin said.
Carter said her children, her faith, and staying positive were the things that kept her going.
"I think what's helped me along the way is I stayed positive. You have to stay positive," she said.
Today, Carter takes chemotherapy pills daily. She said she takes anywhere from 2 to 15 and that does not count any other medication. This treatment will last another year to year and a half even though Carter is in remission.
"I have a lot of faith and everything and I know everything's going to be okay," Austin said.
If she could give Coach Pagano advice, she would tell him to do what she did.
"I would just advise him to remain positive and just believe in God and have faith that, you know, he's alright," Carter smiled.
"My heart goes out to him because I know what he's going through and someone actually reached out to me."
Carter said she is thankful for the support the staff at St. Vincent Health gave her.