Diary

Water Cooler 4/29/16 - Carly Fiorina - Cancer Survivor, Business Warrior, Faithful Believer

Carly Fiorina – A Warrior’s Breast Cancer Survival Story

I’m going to devote this Water Cooler today to one of my real heroes in life, Carly Fiorina, and her remarkable story of courage, survival, and achievement.

What many Constitutional Conservative friends of mine were unaware of is that in 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a double mastectomy to survive.

One thing that struck me about her survival story was the difference between a real Christian like Carly, and a fake, “Two Corinthians” person like Trump who might not have ever cracked open a Bible before. Her favorite passage as she worked her way through the cancer treatments was from the same book of the Bible, but she refers to it with a greater sense of reverence:

“So much of survival is about the human spirit, and the human spirit can endure virtually anything. Not all do, and faith is a huge part of a spirit’s ability to endure.”

“One of my favorite Bible verses is 2nd Corinthians: Therefore, we do not lose heart. Outwardly we are wasting away day by day, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

For Carly, her cancer journey was also a spiritual journey:

“I focused on finding moments of joy and grace every day. A moment of joy or moment of grace could come from being around family and friends. It could come from listening to a beautiful piece of music. It could come from looking at a beautiful sunset.”

“I’ve learned this over and over in life. In the toughest passages come blessings, if we are open to receive them. There are always blessings in tough passages.”

Remarkably, before the end of the year she was campaigning for the California Senate seat against Barbara Boxer, who she was not intimidated by:

I have to say that after chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer just isn’t that scary anymore. She has always taken the low road to higher office, so get ready. But I can take a punch, and I can throw a punch

Through her journey of survival, she found out something very interesting – if she had followed the new ObamaCare cancer screening guidelines, she would have died:

At the same time, the cancer was very aggressive and had spread to lymph nodes that are not captured in a mammogram. It was, without a doubt, a very close call. Later, after Obamacare was passed, the Health and Human Services Administration changed the protocol for breast cancer screening. They recommended that women get a mammogram every other year and that they not do self-examinations. The Obama administration had concluded that this change in protocol would minimize false alarms and cost. I remember being insulted when HHS justified these changes by saying the old protocol caused too much trauma and concern. Women are tough. We can handle it. I remember thinking that if I had followed this protocol, I would probably be dead.

Her cancer journey taught her deep lessons about love and faith – that you shouldn’t measure your life in terms of time, but in terms of love:

“I learned how strong love is, the love of my husband, the love of my family. I learned how strong faith is. I was blessed by the kindness of strangers every day, and still am. People will come up to me and say I too am a survivor, or I too have lost a child.”

“People are generous about sharing their experiences with you so you don’t feel like you’re alone. I learned that life isn’t measured in time. It’s measured in love, positive contributions and moments of grace.”

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Carly in 2009 US Senate campaign, as her hair was still growing back after her cancer treatments

Cancer was not the only tragedy and struggle for Carly and her husband Frank in 2009

We’ve all become more familiar with Ted Cruz’s story of his sister’s tragic drug related death. Unfortunately, both members of this ticket have dealt with the death of a loved one after years of drug and alcohol dependence.

Carly was the step-mom for her husband Frank’s daughter Lori for 24 years of Lori’s life, but in 2009, Lori lost her struggle with addiction, which Carly wrote about in a book titled Rising to the Challenge:

In the midst of all this, on October 12, 2009, that we learned of Lori’s death. For the second time in nine months, time stopped. We had spent the last months of her life desperately trying to intervene with her doctors to make sure they understood the depths of her illness.

I have thought often since then how poorly we deal with mental illness and addiction as a nation. Like Lori, those who are ill frequently fight against help. Medical privacy laws, although perhaps well intentioned, make it easier for an addict to continue down a destructive path.

Perhaps President Cruz and Vice President Fiorina can propose some common-sense changes to privacy laws to help families who only want to help their loved ones as they battle with addiction. Too often, doctors and clinics hide behind privacy laws as they peddle dangerous opiate drugs to known abusers. Responsible family members should be allowed to intervene when possible.

At the Heritage Foundation December 18, 2014 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


Carly is a powerhouse at handling the media

As Steve Deace and Daniel Horowitz stated on Steve’s radio show Wednesday night, Carly is nearly the perfect VP choice for one reason – she is able to aggressively turn any media cycle into an offensive attack cycle.

Deace made an excellent point – the Cruz campaign has been good all year with the media, because of their message discipline, as long as they were on the offensive. Their problem has been that once they are put on the defensive, it takes them awhile to turn things back to an aggressive attack on the opponent.

They loved the pick of Carly though, because she has an incredible ability to stay on message perfectly, while turning any discussion into an aggressive, attacking offense. And she can turn it on a dime.

If you want an example of how good she is, today’s Hugh Hewitt interview is a fantastic example:


Her life’s story – don’t believe the “Secretary to CEO” story – Carly was also a powerhouse in business almost from day 1

Although she did spend a couple of stints as a “Kelly Girl” temporary receptionist and part-time secretary as she worked her way through college, she was also working her way through graduate business degrees at University of Maryland and the MIT Sloan School of Management as a Sloan Fellow. By the time she finished school, she became the first-ever female AT&T Senior VP within about a year, and within 7 years helped lead one of the most successful IPO’s in US history when Lucent Technologies was spun off from AT&T under her leadership in corporate operations.

Just as she would later with HP, as President of Lucent’s consumer products division, Carly helped lead the company to double revenue growth of $19 billion to $38 billion in a few short years.

Nine years after leaving college, Carly Fiorina was named the “Most Powerful Woman in American Business“. What were you doing 9 years after college? I know I still had a few rungs to climb before I made the “most powerful” lists.


About that stint at HP – don’t listen to the trolls

Was she pushed out by the board of directors because HP’s stock value wasn’t keeping up with Dell? Maybe. But at that very time she had doubled the revenue, grew the cash flow by 40%, increased the number of employed workers from 80,000 to 150,000, and set the stage for the monstrous 375,000 employee organization that just split into two NYSE corporate entities. Oh and there’s this:

Earnings nearly doubled the year after she left, which Fiorina gets no credit for but probably deserves some.

Dell? Stock collapsed soon after, and the remains of the organization sold off into private equity.

Carly Fiorina and Michael Dell both faced the same problems – razor thin margins on PCs, laptops and business servers against ultra-cheap Chinese and Taiwanese competition. Carly decided to grow the business long-term by going into enterprise servers and enterprise services, at the cost of short term growth. History has been a bit more kind to her decision than to those Dell made at the time.

As a techie, one thing I love about HP is that they invested heavily in Unix and Linux from an early point, and that investment has paid dividends for many years as it keeps them in the enterprise and cloud computing game.


Carly’s favorite song

One of her favorites is one of mine as well – Domino by Van Morrison. Excellent musical tastes – a lover of 70’s music like myself. Enjoy on a sunny Friday afternoon! Great song to take you into the weekend:


Well That’s it for the water cooler today. It’s an open thread so have at it.