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Carnes Is a Survivor

Breast cancer survivor Frankie Carnes, left, celebrates life with her husband, former Ohio Sen. Jim Carnes, R-St. Clairsville. Photo Provided

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — It has been more than 12 years since St. Clairsville resident Frankie Carnes was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she knows the value of hope — and, yes, tea — in finding solace during difficult situations.

Carnes has remained cancer-free since being treated in 2005. The following year, she hosted her first “Tea of Hope” event at the First Christian Church in Barnesville, and invited many women she knew whose lives had been affected by cancer. Carnes has now organized 13 events, which typically take place each July.

She has had as many as 120 women turn out for her tea ministry to comfort those experiencing loss, rejoice during messages of recovery, drink tea and eat scones and cookies.

Carnes’ breast cancer was treated not by mastectomy, but by MammoSite five-day targeted radiation therapy at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling. The treatment involves first removing the lump of cancerous tissue on the breast, then inserting into the cavity a small, soft MammoSite balloon attached to a thin catheter.

Radiation “seeds” then are shot through the catheter into the breast twice daily for five days, resulting in a total of 10 treatments. Carnes was not hospitalized during the treatments, but returned twice each day for outpatient treatments following her surgery. Her last session was the following Monday after treatment began, and the balloon and catheter were removed.

Carnes’ husband — former Ohio Sen. Jim Carnes, R-St. Clairsville — served as her nurse at home.

“He did a lot of things he never thought he would have to do, and he did them well,” Carnes said.

Initially, she returned for follow-up treatments every four months.

“I’ve had no problems whatsoever,” she said. “Now I just have to have a yearly mammogram, and I’ve never missed one.”

Carnes reports there was no past history of breast cancer in her family, although two of her daughters have had issues with two other types of cancer. Daughter Kristi experienced a molar pregnancy requiring cancer treatment, and daughter Leslie received chemotherapy following a hysterectomy. Neither has had issues with cancer since their treatments.

It was while recovering from breast cancer treatment that Carnes read an article in “Tea Time” magazine about a woman in Louisville, Ky. who started an annual tea service in honor of a friend who had died of breast cancer. Carnes contacted the magazine, and was able to reach out to the woman about starting a similar event in Belmont County.

“It not only encompasses women who have been touched by cancer, but by those who have experienced any catastrophic illness or extreme difficulty,” she said. “It’s been a huge blessing, and a passion.”

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