Ann Carroll: On the Air, Over Cancer
Ann Carroll was tapping keys on a typewriter in the KARE-TV newsroom. In her head, the elementary schoolgirl was writing her personal story. She was going to be a sports reporter.
Carroll had tagged along to KARE 11 in the 1980s and ’90s with Steve, her sports-reporting older brother. As she held old scripts and watched female anchors in the studio, she told herself, “If they can do it, I can do it.”
That mantra of scrappy perseverance would serve Carroll well at home with six older brothers, in high school during her battle with ovarian cancer and in her sports-reporting career as she diligently works to craft a niche in a male-dominated field.
Sports coursed through the Carroll veins at their home in Edina. Her brothers played hockey; she figure-skated. Her brothers hit baseballs; she shagged foul popups. Her dad watched Vikings games; she sat on his lap.
“Sports are second nature because that is what our family revolved around,” says Carroll, a reporter for FSN North for the last six years after stops at stations in Duluth, Kansas City and St. Louis during her 17-year career.
Carroll had covered major events such as the World Series and the NCAA Final Four, but in 2006, she said she received “the call that changed my life.” She was asked to come home to Minnesota to report on the state high school hockey tournament.
With her sideline reporting supplementing her audition tapes, FSN reached out and hired her. She became the face of Vikings Weekly.
“I never thought that I would work in my hometown,” Carroll says. “It’s been a dream.”
Carroll’s dream had overcome a nightmare in high school. As a junior, she was a fit, goal-scoring forward on the Hornets varsity soccer team. Then, she started to gain weight.
“I didn’t have any symptoms,” Carroll says. “I just wasn’t feeling myself. … I went to my mom and said ‘something isn’t right.’ I really did look six months pregnant.”
A nine-pound tumor was discovered on one of Carroll’s ovaries.
Dr. Deborah Davenport of Southdale OB-GYN said the “cantaloupe-sized” tumor was a rare form of ovarian cancer—and not the type typically found in older women.
“It was so rare that we had to send samples around the country for other opinions,” Davenport says.
Surgery removed it; chemotherapy followed.
“She was an amazing 17-year-old,” Davenport says. “I don’t think I saw her shed a tear. She was very stoic and very brave. Never a complaint.”
She didn’t have time for cancer, Carroll says.
“Let’s get on with this,” Carroll recalls thinking. “I have prom to go to. I have skating shows to do. … You just want to get on with it.”
Carroll’s long, straight blond hair gave way to no hair at all. Carroll remembers the trauma she felt as a teenage girl seeing her locks in the trash can.
But really, cancer was an inconvenience.
“I had my social calendar to worry about,” Carroll says. “I had my sports calendar to worry about. I don’t know if I would react that way now.”
Treatment and hospitalization, however, threatened.
“I was still able to go to prom,” says Carroll, who attended both Edina High School and Bloomington Jefferson's prom. After a round of chemo in the morning, Carroll put on a blond wig, a pink dress and danced the night away.
It’s another example of the mantra, “If they can do it, I can do it.”
“I think that mindset saved my life,” Carroll says now.
Carroll now has a new life to care for: Her and her husband Brian had their first son, Jack, who turned 2 in June.
Davenport left one ovary so Carroll could realize her other dream—becoming a mother.
“We saved that ovary, and it worked,” Davenport says. “And now she has this wonderful little boy.”
Carroll is setting an example for Jack with her professional, hard-driving work ethic, says FSN North cameraman Ralph Gasow.
The stories that drive Carroll involve charity work, says Gasow, who has worked with Carroll for six years.
“She always does a good job with the stories, the writing,” Gasow says.
Carroll is often asked to take part in charity events, and she eagerly participates.
“I’m always honored when someone asks me to speak or to walk in a fashion show or tell my story,” Carroll says. “If it’s going to inspire someone in a career or inspire someone to go get checked out—you never know who you may touch.”
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