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.”