We Are Living Hope - Brenda Turner Hipp
Diagnosed: Ages 44 and 55
Now: Age 56
and a two-time breast cancer survivor
Knowing I had fought and won this battle before, I knew that I could
do it again.
It was Christmas 2001 when I first felt the lump in my breast. Even though I suspected it, I was not ready to hear “you have breast cancer.” When the lump turned out to be malignant, my oncologist, Ahmad Gill, MD, told me that I had two options — a lumpectomy with radiation therapy, or a mastectomy.
I’ve worked at Aiken Regional Medical Centers for 25 years as a Staffing Coordinator for Nursing Administration, and I can say first-hand that nowhere else are the people more caring and compassionate.
A difficult choice
I went home and for the next few weeks, I did a lot of research! It was a very difficult decision, but in the end my doctor and I both felt that a mastectomy would be the right choice because the chance of cancer returning in the breast was slightly lower.
I had a mastectomy with reconstruction a few weeks later, and spent eight days in the hospital. This was followed by six chemotherapy treatments. For the next six years, I took cancer medication and I began to experience severe hot flashes and night sweats. It wasn’t easy, but six months later, I was cancer free!
Cancer free for eleven years
I was back to living my life, and at after five years of being cancer free, I felt so relieved. Upon reaching the ten-year milestone of being cancer free, I thought, “I’ve won this battle.”
Then, after eleven years, I was diagnosed with breast cancer a second time. I could not imagine going through it again. I cried uncontrollably, as my little dog Jazze licked the tears from my face to comfort me! But knowing I had fought and won the battle before, I knew with the love and support of my family and friends that I could do this again.
On Valentine’s Day 2012, I had a second mastectomy and reconstruction, followed by six more rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments. Losing my hair was difficult for me. So with the support of my friends, I had a “shave your head” party! There were lots of tears and laughter, and once again my friends and family pulled me through.
“I feel so blessed.”
Cancer has made me a better person, a stronger person. I will never take life for granted; time with family and friends is what matters now. Being surrounded by the people you love is so much more meaningful than obsessing over the little, unimportant things that come into our lives.
Everyone at Aiken Regional was extremely good to me during my recovery. Both times I was diagnosed, they worked around my schedule so that I could come in during the times that I felt well.
I would tell a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer to understand that you will need support and accept it. You need to keep a positive attitude, stay active and try to have as much normalcy in your day-to-day life as possible. You can beat cancer. I’ve done it twice!