Solana Beach breast cancer survivor turns attention to helping other patients

Carrie Steele and her daughter Samantha.

Solana Beach resident Carrie Steele’s days were filled by her job as head of automotive industry sales at Google and time with her daughter.

But in 2019, shortly after turning 50, her life was upended by an advanced breast cancer diagnosis.

“It is a full-time job to do your research and understand your diagnosis and get first and second and third, or whatever you’re most comfortable with, opinions to feel comfortable with who’s going to be in this battle with you and helping you beat it,” Steele said.

Steele beat cancer last summer, when she received her final treatment. She said she made sure her road to recovery provided a way to “find rainbows” through a difficult process, and now she’s focusing on supporting other women battling breast cancer.

After her diagnosis, she reviewed her medical options and chose Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center, where a team led her through a treatment plan that included chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

“You have to feel really comfortable with who you’re turning your life to in these moments,” Steele said.

Steele’s treatment also involved walks with friends, yoga and maintaining a healthier diet.

“I think that made a huge difference in how well I responded and my mental state,” said Steele, who moved to North County from Colorado in her teens and graduated from Torrey Pines High School.

She’s also helping to guide newly diagnosed patients through a course of action that will work best for them.

Her team at Scripps included Dr. Thomas Buchholz, the cancer center’s medical director. He called Steele “a particular hero” for persevering through her treatment and wanting to help other patients embarking on a similar recovery.

“To see Carrie’s journey and the strength and her willingness now to give back to Scripps MD Anderson, it really enforces why I have such a great job being in the oncology profession,” said Buchholz, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe. “I get to meet and be a part of the lives of people like Carrie who are inspiring with their courage, their positivity and their caringness.

Even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he said people should go to the doctor.

“We’ve worked hard to get the message out that we’re open for screening, we encourage people not to delay seeking medical attention for screening for cancer or any potentially serious medical condition,” Buchholz said.

After beating breast cancer, Steele said she’s looking forward to a new career opportunity as she recently accepted a sales leadership position at Reddit, a website that aggregates news, opinion and content. She also plans to begin traveling once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, while maintaining a newfound appreciation for her health.

“When you have cancer, it will always be on your mind and you have to always be very aware of how you’re feeling and your body, and take good care of yourself —- it does change the way you approach life.”