woman who survived breast cancer

Barb’s #UNSTOPPABLE Journey

In July 2017, at the age of 69, Barb Hiler was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative breast cancer. 

When someone is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, it means the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth – progesterone, estrogen, and the HER-2/neu gene – are not present in the cancer tumor. The tumor lacking these receptors means common treatments like hormone therapy and drugs that target progesterone, estrogen, and HER-2 are ineffective. However, chemotherapy is still a viable treatment option and this type of cancer may even respond better to chemo in its earlier stages than many other forms of cancer. Although treatable, triple negative breast cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat. The cancer is also more likely to spread and recur. 

Hiler’s stage 1 diagnosis means her cancer was evident but it was contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop. The breast cancer being contained to just one area means the cancer was caught in the early stages and can be treated more effectively. 

After her diagnosis, Hiler underwent chemo, had a lumpectomy – the removal of the tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it, – and finished with radiation. After, she was prescribed an oral chemo drug for three months. Now, she is done with all of her treatments and sees her oncologist every six months. 

Going through treatment takes a toll on the physical body, but one could argue the mental toll is much larger. 

“While going through all treatments I tried to stay positive – that’s half the battle,” Hiler recalled.

Hiler’s key to staying positive was attending Xperience Fitness’s silver sneaks GroupX classes.  

“[I] am so grateful for all the love and support I received from everyone,” Hiler expressed. “I still participate in Silver Sneakers and now [I am] finally back in Aqua Fit.”

Hiler said this quote by Bob Marley sums up her journey thus far, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”