VALDESE, NC (WBTV) - Before a major, potentially life altering surgery, Carol packed a basket of goodies and activities for the hospital, but it wasn't for her. The basket was for the caravan of people that were driving up to Winston Salem to cheer her on from the waiting room. She wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat while they waited.
Who does that?
Carol Smith did, and it's just one reason why her sister, Renee Shatley, nominated her to be a Survivor of the Month.
Renee says Carol is always thinking about other people, whether it's her nieces and nephews, or neighbors.
"She keeps going and smiling and doing things for other people," Renee said. "That's just who she is."
Carol is a teacher at Valdese Elementary School and has three children ages, 19, 14, and 8.
"To me, she's just amazing," Renee said. "It just blows my mind how she can go through all these things she goes through, and she still has this positive attitude, and she is always helping other people over worrying about herself."
And Carol has had plenty to worry about.
Her cancer journey started in 1998 when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while she was pregnant.
Carol and doctors decided to hold off on surgery until after the baby was born, but when she came down with rhinovirus, she had a miscarriage.
At the time, she also had a 2-year-old to look after, because of the treatment protocol including radioactive iodine, Carol was quarantined from everyone, including her child.
Then, years later, it happened again. This time Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She found the lump herself, but breast cancer was a different ballgame. She would have to go through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
She was diagnosed in March of 2014, had surgery about a month later, and went through chemo until September.
As an elementary school teacher, Carol worked as she went through chemo. Since the third, fourth, and fifth days of treatment are the hardest, she planned ahead and took those days off.
The most difficult part of the process for Carol wasn't teaching through the bone pain, or going through the treatments, "I knew God would give me the strength to get through it, but not to be able to take the pain away from my children was the hardest part."
Carol says she received encouragement from an army of supporters including her family, Crosslink Church friends, and coworkers, and said they have "been right by her side through everything."
Renee recalls a slightly different version of the story saying, Renee had so many people in her corner, cheering her on that "she didn't have a choice, but to be encouraged."
"To me, she's my hero," Renee said of her sister. "I think, could I be as strong as she was, and I don't know."
Just a few months ago, in May, Carol's PET scan was clear and her mammogram in July didn't show any cancer cells. "I'm feeling better every day," Carol said in a cheerful update.
She believe God will ultimately use her experience to put her in a place to help others someday.
To anyone who might be going through cancer treatments or any battle, Carol says it's important to find a network of people to rally around, and "let them be there for you."