Carla Hill, Breast Cancer
"My surgeon here at Sylvester was about fighting it and getting me through it."
Two Bouts With Breast Cancer Can’t Get Her Down
Although she’s only 37, Carla Hill’s youthful glow makes her look 10 years younger, a blessing she attributes to good genes. Those same genes, though, may not have favored her in other ways.
Carla’s mother is a 20-year cancer survivor who was diagnosed when Carla was in college. She remembers her mother “handling cancer like a champion,” so “bravely and privately” that Carla was hardly aware of her mother’s struggle. The lessons Carla learned from her mother served her when she herself battled breast cancer—not once, but twice.
“My surgeon here at Sylvester was about fighting it and getting me through it.”First diagnosed in 2005, Carla discovered a sizeable lump at the age of 33. She immediately sought treatment, and the affected breast was removed, followed by six months of chemotherapy. Because Carla had undergone a successful kidney transplant in 2000, a more conservative course of treatment was suggested to avoid compromising her kidney.
In 2007, the cancer reoccurred in Carla’s other breast—a discovery found by a mammogram she almost postponed because she was “too busy.” Again, she had surgery and chemotherapy, performed by her team of doctors at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center: oncologist Orlando Silva, M.D., Ph.D., and surgeon Frederick Moffat, M.D.
“My surgeon here at Sylvester from the minute I went in was about fighting it and getting me through it. My oncologist is brilliant. Every time I see him there’s new research that he’s uncovered,” Carla says.
At the time of her first diagnosis, Carla boasted of her long, flowing hair and relished her weekly “blowouts.” But as her hair fell out, she opted not to wear wigs or to have reconstructive surgery, not wanting to be defined by her physical appearance or to undergo any surgery that could compromise her kidney.
Carla describes her family as “very faithful,” believing in prayer and positive thinking. “I think it’s important for people in this situation to surround themselves with people who are thinking life and believing life and fighting with you,” she says.
Carla, a New World School of the Arts and Florida State University graduate, works as a manager for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts’ YoungArts program. In this role, she encourages young artists in the performing, visual and literary arts.
In 1992, Carla made the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad. With only dance experience, she relished the challenge of auditioning. She was a talented cheerleader then, and is her own best cheerleader now.
“I’m two years cancer free since my last cancer was in 2007. August of 2010 will be my third year,” Carla says. “I’m working hard toward getting to that fifth year that everyone dreams of—fifth year and beyond, I say. And I know that there’s a team behind me working on that too.”
Carla shares her life with her husband, Marlon, and is grateful that she has her mom, stepdad, father, and brother all with her in Miami as well.