“I don’t have time for this.” That was P1 Group Proactive Solutions Consultant Hilary Edward’s first thought when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on February 16, 2017.
“I told my husband, don’t worry, I got this.” If anything, Hilary says, the whole thing seemed like an annoyance - an inconvenience she was set on getting rid of as quickly as possible.
Thanks to a close friend, Hilary was able to get in to KU for a second opinion.
The news wasn’t good.
“Based on their findings of the mammogram, ultrasounds, biopsy, and MRI, they deemed my cancer very aggressive and it was imperative I begin treatment immediately,” Hilary recalls.
“We were told to plan on spending the remainder of the year (it was only February!) on fighting this battle, and my response was, “I want to be finished before the holidays; how do we make this happen?”
When Hilary saw actual dates on her treatment schedule, she knew success was the only option.
“I was going to reach those dates, on time. I knew I could push my body and get it to respond the way I needed it to, and I would do what I could to give it a fair, fighting chance to stay strong and maintain the fight.”
July 20, 2017 was supposed to be her last chemo treatment, and she made sure it was. Then it was time for surgery - and the holidays.
On August 19, 2017, Hilary was already declared NED (no evidence of disease). Tissue biopsies, tumor biopsies, and lymph node biopsies came back clear.
“My bilateral mastectomy was August 14, 2017. Reconstruction was November 13, 2017. I finished before the holidays!”
Hilary says she couldn’t do any of it without her support network.
“I was simply blown away by the support – from my family, my friends and especially P1 Group,” Hilary said.
“P1 Group was amazing! I was encouraged to work when I felt well and work from home to protect my compromised immune system. Colleagues checked on me,” she said.
“There was a huge care basket from my team. Food, cards, and flowers flowed into our home. P1 Group made it clear that my position was always secure and my focus needed to be on getting well. They embrace each and every associate as family.”
How do you keep your network of concerned friends, family, coworkers and supporters connected throughout your journey?
Hilary cleverly decided to tell the story through the journey of her hair.
She created a private Facebook group called “The Journey of Hilary’s Hair” where she could share her experience in a creative, fun and powerful way, opening with the following statement.
“As I begin my cancer journey, my hair will also be going on this journey to ultimately take an extended vacation from my head. As a way to track this journey, we will post fun photos of the way my hair will change, disappear, and ultimately return from its chemo vacation.”
“The Journey of Hilary’s Hair started as a request from some of my childhood friends back home in Portland. They knew I didn’t want to live and breathe cancer, but they wanted a way to be kept informed and up to date on how things were going,” Hilary said.
“It became an avenue for me to encourage others; to stay positive, stay hopeful; it also held me accountable to focus on the big picture; the end goal; to remain as positive as I knew I was capable of.”
Hilary’s relentless fighting spirit certainly caught the attention of her surgeon and medical team at Kansas University Medical Center.
Her team nominated her for the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Kauffman Stadium. Baseball icon Buck O’Neil spent many days and nights supporting the Royals from the same seat behind home plate at Kauffman. The Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat program fills “Buck’s Seat” for every home game with a member of the community who, on a large or small scale, embodies an aspect of Buck’s spirit.
Hilary was described by her cancer care team as “a breath of fresh air.” Her nomination read:
“Hilary went through chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy with grace, poise, and a positive attitude. Hilary and Tyler are now large supporters of other cancer-related events in the community, and attend Treads and Threads, which her employer P1 Group is a title sponsor. Hilary participated in the 2017 Komen Kansas City Race for the Cure and was recognized as 1 of 40 breast cancer survivors at the NASCAR Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in October of last year.”
“To be awarded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat made for a truly ‘great day at the K,’” Hilary said.