Finding Inspiration Together With Hilary Harvey, Realtor and Breast Cancer Warrior
I first met Hilary Harvey at JoyRide Texas where she is always rocking her ride with a sunny smile and bubbly personality. Although I did not know her well, I immediately recognized her as a positive force---and a woman who lived life large. When I learned that the 32-year-old realtor was recently diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer, I watched as she took it in stride, bravely sharing everything from shaving her head to the realities of chemotherapy on her social media platforms. Sporting wigs as colorful as her personality, Hilary is using her experience to educate and remind women to perform self-exams and advocate for their health. Check out the Q& A below and get to know this courageous Aggie who is encouraging and inspiring others to BTHO breast cancer!
How did you detect your cancer?
I had a dream where I saw my grandmother who passed from breast cancer 14 years ago. In my dream I walked up to her and she didn't say anything but I could tell she was worried. The next evening I did a self exam and found a hard lump in my left breast. The next morning I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN. From there it moved very quickly. The oncologist wanted me to start chemo ASAP. Because my cancer is fed by hormones and is fast growing and aggressive, the doctors did not want to waste any time.
What is your treatment plan?
I will undergo six rounds of Chemo, plus treatment that blocks the HER2 receptors. Then I will have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. Finally, six more treatments to block HER2 receptors.
You have a really positive outlook--how do you feel like that helps you in the battle and how do you stay positive on the days you aren't feeling it?
I have always been an outgoing and positive person. I have never met a stranger and I always believe the glass is half full. I have found that staying positive and having a comical outlook on things helps my friends and family be more at ease with my situation. It also helps me stay positive during the difficult days.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge is not being able to be as physically active as I was before chemo. I used to take spin classes 4-6 times a week and attend social events with friends as often as I could. Now i have to take a step back and remember my health comes first. Not being able to do the things I want has made me feel depressed at times, but I am so blessed to have my friends who continue to support me and love me. I would be lost without them.
You have been very vocal about your diagnosis and treatments, sharing your experiences on social media in such a positive way and inspiring way. What impact do you hope to have on other women?
I want to teach women to know their bodies and to seek help when something feels wrong. I would really like to create some sort of group that brings more awareness to young women about breast cancer. I have discovered that many women my age don't even know how to do a proper self exam or they hesitate to see a doctor if they find something because they think, "I am too young for cancer." Then when they are diagnosed the prognosis isn't as good because the cancer was detected too late.
What are some things you are doing to stay focused and positive?
I have continued to work as much as I can. Some days are much harder than others. I try to take advantage of my good days as best as I can. I still exercise as much as possible but it's difficult because you can feel great one day and awful the next. I make an effort to get to every JoyRide class I can. My Joy family has been so amazing and positive. I am blessed to be part of such a wonderful community.
What advice would you give someone in your shoes?
Remind yourself daily that the bad days are only temporary. You will get through this. Life will go back to normal.