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THIS IS Krista's Story

This is Krista’s happily ever after

Krista Carroll always wanted to be a mom.

A place deep inside of her longed to be filled with what she had lost so early in life – her mother.

Krista Carroll always wanted to be a mom.

A place deep inside of her longed to be filled with what she had lost so early in life – her mother.

“There are so many memories I didn’t get to make with my mom,” Krista said. “In all of life’s biggest moments – when I graduated, got married and had my first baby – I missed my mom. I’d watch my friends’ moms sweep in and rescue them when they needed help. I always wished I had that champion.”

Krista yearned to recreate what she had lost at age 12 when her mother died from cancer – and for her, that meant being a mom.

THIS is what Krista lives for.

Krista loves being with her husband, Christopher, and her kids, Madden, 6, and Jillian, 3, whether waterskiing on Raystown Lake, watching baseball or screaming on the rollercoasters at Hersheypark.

“Everything we do revolves around family,” the 32-year-old Shippensburg woman said. “We love being together, and from the moment I had my son, I just loved being a mom.”

But as her first child grew, so did a nagging fear – What if she got sick just like her mother had?

“I have a big faith,” she said. “I just told myself that God has a path for me, and as long as I listen, it will be good.”

One day when Madden was 2, he announced, “Mommy has a baby in her belly.” Turned out he was right, and because of that pregnancy, Krista found out her cervix looked abnormal. Six weeks after she delivered her daughter, Krista was told she had cervical cancer.

“It was a very, very emotional road,” Krista said. “I thought, ‘My mother had cancer, and she left me. Am I going to leave my children?’”

Krista met with Dr. Josh Kesterson at Penn State Cancer Institute.

“I chose Penn State Health because I had the utmost confidence in the research hospital,” she said. “Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It felt like I was family.”

She loved that a nurse called her back within an hour every time she called with a question. She loved that parking attendants offered to park her car so she wouldn’t have to walk far to her appointments.

Krista had a hysterectomy, but she appreciated that Dr. Kesterson saved her ovaries so she wouldn’t go through instant menopause at age 30.

For six weeks, she couldn’t lift anything, including her newborn daughter. “It was a very hard time. I was dealing with all this emotional stuff, and I missed giving my daughter a bath or even picking her up,” she said.

THIS is victory.

Recovery was slow, but Krista was thankful she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. “I had memories of my mom having both and how sick she was,” Krista said. “But I also remember how strong she was. I never saw her cry. I definitely modeled my behavior after her.”

These days, Krista is a busy mom and also loves gardening, volunteering at her church and seeing her dad, siblings and in-laws, all of whom live within five miles. Every six months the family visits Hersheypark – after she sees Dr. Kesterson for follow-ups.

“He always gives me a hug and tells me how strong I am,” she said. “He’s very reassuring about my future, and I believe every word he says.” Two years past her surgery, Krista knows THIS is not her mother’s story – it’s hers.