Delta, CO (July 30, 2019) – It was supposed to be a routine mammogram for Christy Hawk. She had been getting them every year since she turned 40 and never had any issues. But on March 25, 2018, Hawk received news that would change the next year and a half of her life.
The mammogram detected a small spot prompting a second scan. The second scan detected a larger mass that was then biopsied and diagnosed as malignant.
“If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I thought this would happen to me, the answer would be no,” said Christy. “But the fact is that you really never know. Dr. Nickel, my surgeon, told me that by me coming in for my yearly saved my life and our ability to catch it early.”
After getting diagnosed, Christy encouraged her daughters and friends to get their mammograms taken care of.
“It only takes 20 minutes of your time and it can save your life – it saved mine,” said Christy. “One of my best friends called me and told me that she got a mammogram done because of what I’ve gone through.”
Christy worked with Dr. Goldberg, Oncologist and Dr. Nickel, Surgeon, to come up with a treatment plan that they believed would save her life. It started with a mastectomy on May 25th, 2018. From there she started six treatments of chemotherapy on June 25 th and in November started 28 radiation treatments. December 5, 2018 marked the end of her radiation treatment and in January she finished her immunotherapy treatments.
“It was hard for me to turn the control over to someone else,” said Christy. “It’s scary to put life changing decisions in someone else’s hands, but I had to surrender and trust that I was in great hands. I remember when Dr. Nickel sat me down and told me the direction he thought my treatment should go. He told me: ‘If you give me a year and a half of your life, I will give you 25 more.”
Those words stuck with Christy and she trusted that she was in the best hands. With the support of her doctors, her family and her husband, Darold Hawk, Christy began her journey to recovery.
“One of the hardest parts about this process was the waiting and the unknown,” said Darold. “As a husband you want to be the protector, but I wasn’t able to fix this. I had to come to terms with the fact that some of it she had to do by herself. She had to come to terms with it by herself and find that inner peace.”
Christy and Darold are high school sweethearts and have been married for 37 years. Darold grew up in Crawford and Christy grew up in Paonia. The couple still lives on the same family ranch that Darold grew up on. Their six children and grandchildren have kept them both strong.
“Darold is my rock,” said Christy. “I couldn’t have gotten through this without him. I always say that I would do this again if no one else in our family had to get it… I’d do it again. It’s tough, but you really find out how strong you are. You reach in and you find that inner strength.”
The solo drives to Delta from Crawford were the times when Christy had time to reflect. She learned the importance of keeping up a normal routine as much as possible and keeping her mind busy.
“As much as I could I would stay busy with different things around the ranch,” said Christy. “I hate when people say this is your new norm, you have to stay as close to your normal [life and routine before the diagnosis]. I would go on walks with one of my friends down the road, and we would sometimes walk four or five miles. That was really my saving grace and gave me something to look forward to.”
Deciding to receive treatment as Delta Health was a no brainer for Christy and Darold. Christy had previous surgeries at the hospital and all of her kids were born at Delta Health.
“I always had respect for [the team at Delta Health] that they knew what they were doing,” said Christy. “I know these people and I know that they will take care of me. You don’t get that from big cities.”
Christy says that the nurses and staff she met while receiving treatment gave the couple a strong sense of community support. Many of the nurses became friends with Christy and would ask her about her kids, grandkids and life at the ranch. They always told Christy that if she needed anything she was always free to call them.
“I always tell the staff at [GMO] that although they were [essentially] poisoning my wife every three weeks, she always looked forward to come here to see them because of the way they treated her,” said Darold. “It wasn’t just professional it was personal. They cared for us – every single one of them, and it made us feel special.”
Now that Christy is on the other side of her journey, she is using her experiences to help other patients going through similar situations.
It was with great pride that Christy rang the celebration bell for her 101 st time on July 23 in front of her husband and her new friends at the Oncology Center. Ringing the bell signified the end of her treatments and her being cancer free.
“It’s kind of surreal, actually,” explained Christy. “Because I never thought I would get to the end. It’s just that time is a killer. But here I am – you have to find that inner peace that this is the hand you were dealt, and I’m okay with it and I will get through it.”
With the treatments behind her, Christy is now looking forward to what is next.
“When you come here you get the best care,” said Christy. “It’s all about those lifetime acquaintances that you make along the way. I can’t say enough about Delta Health. For me it was the right choice, and I wouldn’t change that.”