You might be a wife, a mother, or a daughter battling the disease herself.
You might be a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, or close friend of someone going through it.
Each woman leaves more of a legacy than she may ever know in the lives of those who love her. Few legacies show the strength and determination that shine through in the fight against breast cancer. As we all work together in raising breast cancer awareness, we also hope for a future that knows nothing of breast cancer and its impact on the lives of women everywhere.
It is with great honor and respect that we share the stories of these women we know as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and most importantly -- as survivors.
For our past, our present, and our future … Every Woman Counts.
Mariann Hill would not have had her mammogram done at the time when Dr. Hall first suggested it. She was about to have a hysterectomy and hadn’t given much thought to having any other procedures done. But since Dr. Hall had made that suggestion, she decided to go ahead and do it. As it turned out, that decision made a big difference, because that was the mammogram that detected her breast cancer.
“I’ve always been pretty regular about receiving my mammograms,” says Mariann. “For years, I’ve never had anything abnormal come up in my results. I don’t have a strong family history of breast cancer, and what still amazes me is that I never had pain or a lump. There were no outward symptoms to indicate to me that there was something wrong.”
Mariann was officially diagnosed in October of 2012 with breast cancer. “As soon as I got the phone call where they asked me to come back in, I knew there was something wrong,” she recalls. “My first instinct was to prepare myself. I started researching breast cancer, fearing the worst but wanting to know as much as I could about what I might experience soon. For me, it was that knowledge that started to comfort me. I just knew I was going to be okay.”
From there, Dr. Hall also helped to reassure her by explaining the various treatment options she could pursue. Once she had the knowledge from her own research and from talking with Dr. Hall, Mariann felt she could share the news with her family. “I wanted to be able to tell them about the breast cancer with more information about what I had, what I was going to experience, and why I was going to be okay. I am the first person in my family to have any type of cancer, so we all had a fear of the unknown. But because I had learned so much about it so quickly, I was able to reassure them too.”
Mariann’s immediate family was told first, and then she called her two daughters and her son, wanting to tell each of them individually. “My kids were completely shocked,” she remembers. “I explained it to them the same way that I had done with my mom, dad, and sisters, but the biggest thing I wanted them to hear from me was that I was going to be fine.”
Her entire family could see her strength, but they wanted to make sure she had the support she needed as well. “I moved in with my sister Susan, because she did not want me to be alone through this. She has taken me to chemo treatments and been there in case I needed anything. My parents and my children have all been checking up on me, and I have so much support from other friends and family too. I feel very blessed,” says Mariann.
What will her family and friends remember from her experience? Undoubtedly, it will be her strength and perseverance. “I felt like a survivor from the very beginning, because I knew this would not take me,” she says. “This experience has been very surreal, because I couldn’t see or feel that something was wrong with me. I’m grateful for the mammogram that caught my breast cancer, and since then, I’ve been telling everyone I know how important they truly are.”
“Realizing that you have breast cancer is scary and confusing and frustrating all at the same time. But the knowledge I have gained and the support I have been given have both empowered me to fight this, because I still have things to do in my life. If sharing my story about this experience inspires just one woman to receive a mammogram, I will consider that a great success.”