In the fall of 2018, Hilary and her husband, Wayne, were on the road. They had left their home in Texas and were heading to Colorado for the wedding of their firstborn daughter. It was a life event any mother would treasure, let alone one who within the past year had endured a double mastectomy, dissection, radiation and 20 weeks of chemotherapy.

Hilary's Story

Hilary’s cancer story began in the summer of 2017. She was leading a full life. After a successful career in banking, she was self-employed advising small businesses in the field of accounting. Hilary also enjoyed yoga, Zumba and gardening.

Conscientious about her health, Hilary always had routine mammograms. She was vigilant about the test given that she had dense breast tissue. During a self-exam, however, she discovered a lump in her left breast. She followed up with her gynecologist, who referred her to a breast surgeon and ordered a mammogram. The mammogram revealed large tumors and stage 3C breast cancer. Hilary was devastated by the diagnosis.

“After hearing the news, I felt like—at that time—it took forever to get a plan in place,” Hilary shares. “My first surgery was scheduled for October. But my eldest daughter, Kristin, was engaged that Labor Day weekend, so we waited, wanting to celebrate her joyous news. Then my husband and I headed to Fort Worth to tell her about my diagnosis in person. Next, we headed to North Carolina to meet with our middle daughter, Ashlyn, who is studying to be an oncologist, and then to St. Louis to inform Megan, our youngest. It was an awful experience.”

The next several months were a blur of tests, surgeries, a double mastectomy and the removal of lymph nodes. Then came radiation and chemotherapy which continued for nearly six months.

“It was hard to know what I could and couldn’t do,” Hilary recalls. “And I kept asking myself, ‘How did this happen to me?’ I did everything I was supposed to—I exercised, ate right, had regular mammograms. Being diagnosed with cancer can make you lose faith in everything.”


A strong and resilient woman, Hilary realized that she couldn’t—and wouldn’t—battle this disease alone. She accepted help and the kind gestures of friends and family. She also sought out resources that could help her in her efforts to advocate for herself.

Hilary learned about the ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation program offered at a Baylor Scott & White Health outpatient center. Her goals included:

  • Overcoming treatment-related depression.
  • Relieving radiation- and chemotherapy-related nausea, pain and fatigue.
  • Improving her self-image.
  • Reclaiming the active lifestyle—including yoga, Zumba, and gardening—to which she was accustomed.

“While necessary, the chemo and radiation just made me feel terrible, inside and out. I felt very depressed, as I am used to being very active. And it was hard to combat the nausea, pain and fatigue on my own. Plus, I lost my hair and had to draw in my eyebrows,” says Hilary.

Hilary struggled with:

  • Treatment-related depression
  • Lymphedema
  • Scar tissue
  • Mobility issues, muscle weakness and tightness
  • Nausea, pain and fatigue
  • Self-image issues
The Routine

Hilary’s ReVital therapist helped her gain strength and flexibility. She also helped Hilary regain her active lifestyle, offering exercise modifications that would help prevent lymphedema, a risk factor for anyone with lymph node removal. The physical gains Hilary experienced, in turn, boosted her mental and emotional state, as well as her independence and confidence.

Hilary utilized many aspects of the ReVital program, including:

  • Manual lymph drainage for lymphedema.
  • Soft tissue mobilizations for cording and scar tissue.
  • Activity modifications to promote independence while going through cancer treatments.
  • Strength exercises to promote a return to activity.
How ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation Helped Hilary

“Physical therapy has been so important, and with breast cancer, it’s a much different type of PT. It first helped as I recovered from my surgeries,” Hilary continues. “Then, when I felt terrible during radiation and chemo, it helped because the more you move, the more energy you have. All I wanted to do was get back to my ‘old self’ and life, and my therapist was there every step of the way.”

While Hilary’s cancer diagnosis changed her life, it hasn’t changed her as a person. She shares her experience freely to offer hope and inspiration to others.

Next Steps

Call us to find out more about our multidisciplinary post-cancer rehabilitation program.

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