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Even after battling lung cancer twice, Victoria man helps others first (Video)

By BY KELDY ORTIZ - KORTIZ@VICAD.COM
Feb. 21, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:22 p.m.

About 20 patients at the Victoria Nursing and Rehabilitation facility, most of them in wheelchairs, perform exercises and train a little with a big red ball to work on their hand-eye coordination.  Larry Carter, activities director for the facility, encourages the patients  with a warm smile and soft touch.

Larry Carter hasn't had an easy life, but others wouldn't know because he keeps it private.

At his day job, Carter is an activities director at Victoria Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

He enjoys this type of activity, having worked in different nursing homes since 1971.

But working as a director is a part of what he does.

A soft-spoken man, Carter, 58, speaks with a whisper. But he can't help it.

Battling lung cancer twice in the last 23 years has affected his ability to speak.

He was in remission after his first diagnosis in 1989, but it returned two years later. He has lived with it since.

In November, the cancer spread to his back.

"I was 35 years old. I didn't think I would have cancer," Carter recalled about the 1989 diagnosis. "After the first time, I didn't think it would have happened again."

But it did, and it never hindered his love for helping his community.

Because of the care he received from the community during his long battle with cancer, he decided to give back by volunteering.

He joined the Cuero Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and became a member of the Victoria Community Action Committee in February 2009 where he has been able to help low-income people.

"It's not just for one person," he said. "It's for the community."

Kay Lapp Arndt, executive director of the Cuero Chamber of Commerce Agriculture and Visitor's Center, appreciates the work Carter has done.

"He's a person that you can count on," Arndt said. "He's the first one who volunteers, even though it's not his obligation."

He has received the chamber's citizen of the year award twice - this year and in 2004.

Carter is also a member of the Lions Club, Gobbler Booster Club, Cuero Education Foundation, among other organizations.

And Cuero is not the only thing he cares about.

Relaine Pitts, his niece, said faith is a big part of his life.

Pitts, 42, who lives in Houston, understands how a community can be close to him, because she too is close to him.

"Even (in college), when I was down with grades, he was still there," said Pitts. "He still helps me to look more in a positive direction."

Carter's own battle with cancer is not the only obstacle he's faced.

Carter, along with his two sisters, had to deal with the 2011 death of their brother Henry Carter.

While the death was a shock to the family, Carter's sister Deborah Sue Carter took it the hardest.

Prior to Henry's death, she was already dealing with Carter's cancer. And after his death, she became more fearful that Carter would die, too.

But, she said, he told her not to worry.

"He tells me he's been happy and everything will be all right," she said.

Carter doesn't think about what's next for him in his health. He will have chemotherapy treatments in the next few days, but for him, one thing remains certain.

"The only thing I know is faith will get me by," Carter said.

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