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Survivor Sanctuary Survivor Stories

Carla Hill

My story is one of unexpected life challenges and glorious triumphs. About ten years ago, I had a kidney transplant. This was a difficult time for me and I thought it would be the first and last time I would experience such a serious health issue. Then in 2005 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I first suspected that there may be a problem when I felt a lump on my breast while attending a wedding. No, I don’t usually make a habit of giving myself breast exams at weddings (smile), but this particular day I did - let’s just say it was divine inclination. Seriously, I am fortunate that I grew up in a time that encouraged women to be conscious about their health and abnormalities in their bodies.

I had the surgery to remove my breast followed by chemotherapy treatments. Life was good and I had not experienced any issues with my health until 2007 when my world turned upside down again.  During a routine mammogram, a lump was found on my left breast. It was a very small mass – nearly undetectable with a self examination. If not for the mammogram, I am sure it would have been found at a much more advanced stage. Although I was thankful to have found it early, it was still difficult to understand why this was happening again.  Like so many women who experience breast cancer or some other life-threatening disease, I thought it was a death sentence, and then my very next thought was, ‘No, I will live. I will envision myself doing the things I want to do.’ I was determined to become my own Super Hero, fighting against any thought of defeat or feeling of hopelessness.  Deep within the recesses of my soul, I knew I would get through this. I had already come through kidney surgery and one cancer diagnosis, which meant I was already a survivor. 

All my life, I had silky, long black hair. I remember losing that beautiful hair after the chemotherapy treatments. Surprisingly, however, I did not see it as a loss – at least not in the way that most people do. Instead, being bald gave me a feeling of empowerment; it was an instant and clearly visible sign to me and to the world that I had overcome.

I don’t have that luxurious black hair anymore – I wear it short and curly. I also opted out of the surgery to reconstruct my breasts. When I feel like it, I wear a prosthetic.  I’ve learned that although I may not have long hair and I may not have breasts, all of me is still very much a woman. It’s not the hair and breasts that make you – it’s what’s inside that makes you.  I have found that inside me is God’s wonderful creation - a woman… grateful … empowered… strong… living.



Breast Cancer Partner Events

September 29, 2012
'Pamper Me Pink' Breast Cancer Event, Floyd County, IN

September 22 – October 28, 2012
Shine Your Light Bright for the Cancer Fight, San Marcos, TX

September 29, 2012
Pink October Velvet Sessions with Bret Michaels, Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL

September 30, October 3, 2012
American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference – “Treating the Cause”, Orlando, FL

September 30, 2012
Prevent Cancer Foundation 5K Race, Washington, D.C.

October 3, 2012
The Beauty of Caring Event, San Francisco, CA

October 11, 2012
Cancer and Careers Online Event Legal & Insurance Issues to Consider

October 13 – 14, 2012
Lance Armstrong Foundation Live Long Run, Walk, Ride Event, Hallandale Beach, FL

October20, 2012
SASS Foundation 18th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Uniondale, NY

October 27 – 30
AACR Cancer Health Disparities Conference, San Diego, CA

November 15, 2012
Cancer and Careers Online Event Re-Entering the Workforce After Short & Long Absences


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