As a comedienne, Carla Youngblood can find humor in any situation — even breast cancer.
Youngblood, a Birmingham native and breast cancer survivor, will be performing in Jasper this week at the conclusion of the Wings of Hope Cancer Support Expo. The free event is being held Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mathews Lecture Hall on the Bevill State Community College campus.
"My main message is going to be no matter what situation you are dealing with, don't focus on the negative in it. Look for the positive and focus on the end result," Youngblood said.
Youngblood's comedy career began seven years ago when she participated in "Realty's Got Talent," a fundraiser hosted at the Stardome Comedy Club in Hoover.
Youngblood, a certified public accountant and realtor, had long dreamed of getting up on stage.
"I said, 'This is my one chance. If it works out, I'll keep doing it. If not, I'll say that I tried,'" Youngblood said.
The performance, which was largely based on family stories, went well, and Youngblood started appearing at clubs in Birmingham and around the Southeast.
She adopted the stage name "The Truth."
Everything was going well for Youngblood until she started noticing pain in her chest after going to bed at night.
In October 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was the first person in her family to receive the diagnosis, although she later found out through testing that she carries the gene that increases the likelihood of getting breast cancer.
Youngblood underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and 28 radiation treatments.
During one of her first treatments, Youngblood started making self-deprecating jokes to lighten the mood of other cancer patients.
Youngblood later turned her observations into a one-woman show, "The Truth About Breast Cancer," which debuted at the historic Carver Theater in October 2016.
The show was an immediate hit.
"I would say that at least half of the audience was survivors. It felt good to hear their feedback and for them to say that they could remember when some of those things happened to them, but they didn't think to look at it the way that I did. They enjoyed the lightness that I added to it because most of the people who tell their story are very somber," Youngblood said.
Youngblood had so much material that she staged a second show in 2017.
Her performance in Jasper will include portions of both shows, as well as general comedy.
Two days after appearing in Jasper, Youngblood will graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a bachelor's degree in communications.
She started taking classes while undergoing chemotherapy.
"When I was diagnosed, I knew I couldn't focus on what I was going through. I had to focus on how I wanted to come out on the other side. I started taking classes so that I had something else to focus on besides the chemotherapy, and now I'm graduating," Youngblood said.
Youngblood continues to work as a CPA on a limited basis.
In addition to her comedy career, she also does speaking engagements and volunteers with Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center, a co-host of the Wings of Hope event with Capstone Rural Health Center.
As a Forge advocate, she is paired with women who is currently battling breast cancer.
"That way, they have someone that they can talk to one-on-one, and it's someone who has gone through it and can relate to it," Youngblood said.