I didn’t choose Pink, it chose me!
I believe everything happens for a reason and that my faith in God will carry me through good times and bad.
My story of breast cancer started at an early age. I had a history of benign breast lumps that taught me the importance of monthly breast self-examinations. When I was 18 I had my first lump removed.
I met my first breast cancer survivor Denise while I was attending my law enforcement academy in 1999. She was in her early twenties, she wore a cute hat, I thought it was weird she didn’t have hair. Later I found out why. I didn’t know you could get breast cancer at an early age. I learned later that Denise died in 2000.
I’ve always been a tom boy and an avid outdoorswoman so a career as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service made sense to me. I moved to Boulder City from Yosemite National Park in March of 2001 with my husband and children to pursue my dream of Rangering at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
In May of 2002 I was introduced to my first Susan G. Komen Race for the cure with a team of Park Rangers committed to raising funds and awareness. On our way to Fremont Street I dominated the conversation discussing early detection, affordable health care, and shared with my friends that breast cancer could happen to anyone, that it wasn’t an old lady disease. I was stunned at how many pink shirts were in the crowd.
I ran the race, came home and went about my merry way. Several months later I found a lump in my breast just like the lumps I’d had before. I monitored it as I had done before totally convinced it was benign. In early November when the lump was making it difficult to wear a bra, I had it removed. Shortly after I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, stage II. Surely I couldn’t have breast cancer! I was 37 years old with a 2 and 5 year old. I had no history of breast cancer in my family, I was young, I was healthy, and I did all the right things. One of the rangers who ran with me earlier called and said “Hinson, you’ll do anything to prove a point”! Thank goodness for humor!
My surgery and treatment consisted of a lumpectomy, 8 rounds of chemo, and 33 rounds of radiation administered by exceptional health care providers’ in Southern California and Nevada. A special thank you to all health care providers who work with cancer patients, what a calling.
After my surgery, while I was waiting to start treatment I was surprised by a knock at my door. Susan G. Komen had sent a volunteer to meet me. She came in and introduced herself as a survivor. Little did she know that her visit changed me from being a victim to a survivor. It was at that very minute that I knew I would survive. Thank you Katrina, you will always be my survivor angel.
For the past eight and half years I have been blessed with good health and am cancer free. During this time I have run and walked in multiple Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure’s (8) and 3 Day Walks (7) with my team of faithful supporters the Dam Walkers (Hoover Dam). I’d like to think I was nominated to be the 2011 New Balance Survivor for my commitment to raising funds and awareness that early detection saves lives. I’m honored to be the New Balance Survivor and dedicate it to my family, friends, survivors and health care professionals who help me be the best survivor that I can be.
I want to personally thank Susan G. Komen Southern Nevada Affiliate for reaching out to me in my time of need. Being diagnosed with cancer is shocking and brings many challenges with it. Having access to programs and support systems has helped me tremendously. This nomination comes at a perfect time in my life; it has rekindled a fire in me that I intend to keep burning so that I may continue to give back. As I have said in the past and will say once again I will run and walk and when I can run or walk no more, I will crawl to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research and programs. I know my breast cancer journey is one of too many. I know that the funds we raise help all cancers. This run’s for you Len!