Rising Stars: Meet Carrie Madrid
November 3rd, 2021
Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Madrid.
Hi Carrie, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Originally, I am from the Bay Area of California but have lived the last 20 years in Southern California. My parents divorced when I was in the 3rd grade and my father stayed in the Bay Area while my mother relocated to Southern California. I grew up going between the two and never really felt settled or “at home.” After graduating High School, I attended Empire School of Business in Santa Rosa, where I completed a Medical Transcription certificate program. Having become a mother at age 18, it was imperative that I get some solid skills under my belt and enter the workforce. Upon graduation from Empire, I began working in the medical administrative field. I married and went on to have two more children. After working several years in medical billing, I found my perfect job as a Conference Coordinator with Paradigm, a catastrophic case management corporation. I also found myself a divorced single mother of three at the age of 30.
Fast forward to 2011 – I became the Booster President of the John W. North High School girls’ basketball program in Riverside, California where my daughter played basketball. I spent over six years serving in both the President and Treasurer Roles. It was during this role that I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2012. Immediately, I had a complete peace about my diagnosis and believed it was a responsibility given to me to show others how to deal with a life-threatening diagnosis. My basketball family kept me encouraged, supported and motivated to fight through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction and life-threatening complications. It was during chemotherapy that I realized I really wished I had another breast cancer survivor to talk with. In making friends with other patients throughout treatment, I learned many patients lacked good health insurance, emotional support and everyday necessities became luxuries to those unable to work full time. Since I worked from home, I maintained my income throughout most of my cancer extravaganza and felt the need to give back. It was then I decided I wanted to start a nonprofit to support ALL breast cancer patients, not just women. Did you know 1 in 833 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime?
The CARE Project, Inc. was founded in 2014 and is a 501c3 public charity. The start-up costs to incorporate were sponsored by one of my Paradigm coworkers who believed in my vision. TCP is funded by private donations from friends, family, our monthly CARE Club, community members, grants and special events. Emotional support is provided through the Survivor Social Club and mentorships. Financial support includes assistance with copays, rent, groceries, utilities and other everyday necessities. I do not take a salary and my very first client is the only part-time employee. In 2020, TCP published a book written by Author and two-time Breast Cancer Survivor Margaret Lesh. Handle With CARE; Or Your Support Group In a Book shares the perspectives of 12 people affected by Breast Cancer. 100% of the proceeds are donated to TCP’s mission. It is a very useful handbook for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis and their loved ones. In 2021, as an extension to the book, my podcast, Handle With CARE; Cancer and Beyond was launched. This is a safe space for anyone and everyone affected by cancer to keep it real! All of these projects have led me to the scariest yet most satisfying accomplishment of my life. I was asked to be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at UC Riverside for the Mujeres Unidas club. The goal was to inspire the young Latinx members to keep pushing through all obstacles to achieve their dreams. I also presented a similar message to the East Los Angeles School District students in 2021 and received very positive feedback. I share the trauma and life-changing experiences of my childhood through cancer and have received very positive messages from both faculty and students. Never in my wildest dreams think I would be a CEO of my own nonprofit, an Author, Speaker or Podcast Host. Who am I to do all of that?!? I’ve been fueled by trauma, my will to succeed for my kids and to help others.
My greatest wish is to continue to be an inspiration to newly diagnosed cancer patients/Survivors and anyone who feels they’re not good enough or smart enough to achieve their own success, I often say it is ironic to be called a “survivor” now, In actuality, I am finally living a with full of purpose and passion. Before cancer, I was merely surviving.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has been very difficult to start adulthood as a single mom at age 18. I didn’t obtain a college degree or experience a lot of what others do in their college years. I had to work two jobs for about nine years just to provide for my three kids following my divorce. As a result, I wasn’t the type of mother I had hoped to be. I was a fantastic provider, but so exhausted, scared and frustrated that I wasn’t very loving. I also had to overcome the notion that I wasn’t smart enough, good enough or strong enough to do certain things. I’ve always wanted to share my story through public speaking, writing, etc. I didn’t think someone without a college degree would be taken seriously. I was wrong!
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My latest passion project is my podcast, Handle With CARE; Cancer and Beyond. #HWCAREPODCAST can be found on all podcast platforms and is produced and co-hosted by Chris Donovan of This Is Funner. The idea was to give cancer patients and their loved ones a safe space to keep it real about their experience with cancer. We share inspiring stories, medical information, mental health support and so much more. The show launches a new episode every Wednesday and has been listened to in over 40 different countries. We pride ourselves on tackling some tough subjects with humor, compassion and a “keep it real” vibe.
If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
As a young child, I was extremely shy. For a time, the only men I would go near was my Dad and Grandfathers. My Uncle Roger likes to tell the story of how he walked into the room where I was sitting in my highchair and I just put my head down to avoid him. I have loved music from the time I remember hearing it! I also enjoyed roller skating every Friday night and swimming is still my #1 love in the summer.