Breast Cancer Survivor
My name is Michelle Hilst and I am a Breast Cancer Survivor! I am a mother of 3 amazing young men and I have a wonderful boyfriend of 8 years. My journey started in March of 2015. I went in for a yearly mammogram and a few days later I received a call to come back in for a sono. On the day of my sono they also did a biopsy. I was very worried at that point because my mother passed away in 2005 of Breast Cancer. She fought this terrible disease for 3 years. I was told I would know by Friday the results. They called me that Friday to inform me that they still needed to do some more testing before they knew anything and would contact me on the following Monday. I instantly felt sick to my stomach. I had to think about this all weekend long. Finally Monday came, it was about noon and I got the call at work. I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in my left breast called Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.
I left work and went home to let my family know the devastating news. It was the hardest thing to do and trying to stay positive at the same time. The next step was going to see the oncologist who then made an appointment with a surgeon and a plastic surgeon. I was told I needed an MRI. This MRI showed another lump in my right breast which was not detected on the mammogram. I had more biopsies with the results coming back positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. All I could think about was, I had 2 kinds of breast cancer, my mom died of breast cancer, and I thought this was it, my life is over.
After meeting with all doctors/surgeons, I was informed that I would begin 20 weeks of Chemo that consisted of 2 different kinds. All kinds of things were going through my mind, I didn’t want to go bald, I didn’t want to be sick, and I was continuously thinking of my mom, was I going to die too, I needed her by my side to help me through this and she couldn’t be. How would I take care of my family, what about my job, I was worried about everything and I was scared. I was informed, that after Chemo, would be a double mastectomy with reconstruction and 30 treatments of radiation.
During this time, especially chemo, there were days I just wanted to give up. I was so tired and so sick. On those days, I would look at pictures of my boys and my boyfriend and say to myself, you can’t give up, you have to fight not just for yourself but for those boys, they need me, they all need me!! Thanks to my wonderful family and wonderful friends they all took turns taking me to chemo treatments, attending to my needs, staying with me, visiting me, bathing me, looking after the boys, helped with meals by creating a meal train and would have my house cleaned so that I didn’t need to do anything but to keep fighting the fight! My employer, peers and my staff were so good to me during the 7 months that I was off work, looking in on me often. My boyfriend and my boys were so caring and loving and they pulled together to get me through everything. My amazing best friends, you know who you are, they were always there for me in any way I needed! I don't know how I would have made it without all the unselfish family and all my friends that have helped me during the hardest time of my life. I am very lucky and very blessed!!
During chemo I ended up getting shingles on my head and was hospitalized which then made my treatments longer. Chemo ended in October, surgery was in November, and radiation began in December ending the end of February 2016. My first blood work came back and showed that I was cancer free!! I am a survivor, a warrior and a fighter!! At this point it would be a celebration that it was over!! I can now get my life back together. I still have memory issues that we call chemo brain and I also have bad neuropathy in my feet from the chemo, but I can live with that! I am alive!
Since all treatments and surgery, I have underwent 3 small surgeries for reconstruction stuff. Bills were racking up. I had a large hospital bill that insurance didn't cover. A friend of mine reached out to Nancy Borum who is head of the Bikers for Ta-Tas Breast Cancer Awareness Organization. She told me that they help breast cancer patients with various things. Thanks to this wonderful organization, Bikers for Ta-Tas helped me take care of my bill! For that I'm truly grateful! This not-for-profit organization has an annual fundraiser that helps fund breast cancer awareness and screenings with all proceeds going to help with breast cancer patients and survivors. They are an amazing group of volunteers who put their hearts into helping others! Again, I can’t thank everyone enough, I am very lucky and very blessed!! Thank you Bikers for Ta-Tas for your generosity and your caring support! Forever grateful!