S1E23: A Big Presence, Alone

This Story Has Not Been Told

Apr 25 2021 • 1 hr 3 mins

Carl Riden tells her story of being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer at the start of 2020. Carl shares the practical considerations of having cancer that we don’t normally talk about, as well as the emotional toll of having such a serious illness. At the heart of Carl’s story is how cancer emphasized some of the most excruciating and difficult parts of her life. Carl describes herself as a big person, physically and personality-wise. But, she also talks about feeling as if she has always been alone; she essentially raised herself and never had children of her own. At the time of her diagnosis, Carl was also going through a separation with her partner and she says that one of the most painful images that ran through her mind was returning to an empty home to deal with her illness by herself. During our interview, Carl recalled certain memories like spending time in trees as a young girl reading books; taking long walks on her own listening to podcasts, and she said that the freedom and independence of her life was in some ways exhausting. At this current point, Carl is thankfully cancer-free and is now considering how she wants to live her life in a way that gives back to her community, but also provides her with a sense of satisfaction and happiness. This is a bittersweet idea for Carl, because it comes with the notion that she has to make herself happy rather than fostering these feelings with a partner or loved ones.

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