BRAvo 2018 dancer profile: Carolyn and Dr. Staricco

Carolyn and Dr Staricco


Carolyn and Dr. Staricco

For Carolyn, it was as if things had been moving so fast, but at the same time, so slow.

"Waiting is the worst thing," she said. "The doctor said you can only go as fast as science allows, but waiting is the worst thing. At the same time, the whole world was spinning around me, and when I was told of my diagnosis, I was just standing still."

It was on Sept. 26, 2016, that Carolyn was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She felt a lump during a self-exam. She tried to ignore it, hoping it would just go away, but it weighed in the back of her mind. When she mentioned it to a friend, they urged her to make an appointment with her doctor.

She made an appointment with McLaren Macomb OB/GYN Dr. Enid Roberts, who prescribed a diagnostic 3D mammogram and ultrasound.

While she waited for the results, Carolyn was accompanied by nurse navigator Rose Penzien, who provides a huge measure of support for breast cancer patients. (She asked if Carolyn had any family with her. Carolyn said "no." Rose said, "I'll be your family.")

Radiologist Dr. David Stoddard sat down with her and, pointing to her ultrasound, said he "didn't like the looks of this."

Carolyn responded, "If that is what I'm feeling, then I don't like it either."

With Rose's assistance, Carolyn was able to quickly schedule a biopsy that week.

The biopsy confirmed the cancer. All of this occurred over 10 days "“ a whirlwind for any patient.

"I was so angry," Carolyn said, who has no family history of cancer. "This is your body, your breast, your womanhood. It all happened so fast, but everyone was amazing."

Carolyn's silver lining was that her cancer was stage 1 "“ they had caught it early.

She was scheduled for a partial mastectomy with McLaren Macomb surgeon Dr. Lynn Mathia to remove the cancer.

In the care of oncologists Dr. Arthur Frazier and Dr. Andrew Knechtl, Carolyn would continue her treatment at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb. Knowing she would require radiation, she was really hoping she would be able to avoid chemotherapy.

"I would do anything I had to do," she said. "But Dr. Knechtl knew how much I didn't want chemo."

Then came the call Carolyn had been waiting for.

It was the evening before Thanksgiving, after 7 p.m. Working late, Dr. Knechtl called Carolyn and told her that she would not require chemo.

"That meant so much to me for him to do that," she said, still grateful and emotional years later. "He didn't have to do that "“ he could have waited, but he did it before the holiday weekend. It meant the world to me. That was the best Thanksgiving ever."

Carolyn would undergo 30 radiation treatments before being deemed cancer-free.

She started attending BRAvo in 2017 and volunteered to make the centerpieces that adorned the tables through the McLaren Macomb Center"peace" program.

And when she was asked to dance as part of the "Dancing With Our Docs" program, she joked that she had no experience, but loves to dance "¦ especially if it will benefit so many people.

"It means a lot to me to be able to give back to my McLaren family," she said.

Carolyn recently lost her aunt after a two-month battle with brain and liver cancer. She is dedicating her performance to her.

She is paired with Dr. Andrew Staricco, a pulmonologist and McLaren Macomb chief medical officer.

The self-described two-left-footed Dr. Staricco, who jokingly said he is "accustomed to signing up for things that might potentially embarrass me," quickly agreed to support the event and its worthwhile cause.

Dr. Staricco has experience with cancer, both in his professional life and personal life, with his father diagnosed with brain cancer and having a close family friend recently diagnosed with cancer.

"Once you see it touch your family, you seem to see it more and get touched by it more," he said. "You develop a rapport and connection with them and come to celebrate successes and offer support."

BRAvo 2018
"Don't Gamble on the Girls"
5 p.m. Tues., Oct. 16
The Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township
Get your tickets and donate to your favorite dancing pair at