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Barbara’s Story: No Sign Anything Was Wrong

Barbara Hollis, her husband Bryan and their son Jordan enjoy spending time together, whether it’s game night at home, swimming at the lake, going on beach vacations or riding bikes around their neighborhood. “We spend a lot of time with family on both sides,” Barbara said. “And we spend a lot of time on Jordan’s school activities. He’s into sports and he loves to ride bikes.”

For years, Barbara worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world. “But I realized I wanted to work somewhere I could use my design talents for a reason,” she said. “When I saw a job at Susan G. Komen, something just pulled me to it, and I applied.”

The idea of cancer has always been on the periphery of Barbara’s thoughts. Shortly after Barbara’s birth, her mother began experiencing symptoms that eventually led to a brain cancer diagnosis. “Right after I was born, she stayed in the hospital,” Barbara said. “That’s when her cancer journey started.” Barbara’s mother passed away in 1997.

At Komen, Barbara has been able to use her talents for good while also honoring her mother’s memory. “I liked the idea of working for an organization that was looking to find a cure for cancer,” Barbara said.

Four months after starting work at Komen, Barbara’s OBGYN encouraged her to get her first screening mammogram, at age 44. “I thought, well, I really should go ahead and do this,” she said. “I thought, okay, I’ll get my mammogram, I’ll check it off my list, no big deal.”

Barbara underwent a 3D mammogram in January 2018. “The very next day, they called me and said they saw some type of mass,” Barbara recalled. “I needed to come in for a second mammogram. All I could think was, ‘this is not supposed to happen.’”

Following two biopsies, Barbara’s diagnosis was determined to be DCIS, stage 0. She underwent a lumpectomy and had several lymph nodes removed, followed by 33 days of radiation therapy.

Barbara’s husband, Bryan, was with her when she learned she had breast cancer. “I had all these emotions, and I thought the worst,” she said. “I thought about my mom and everything she went through.”

Family and faith helped Barbara through treatment. “My husband’s support and believing in God helped me through this,” said Barbara. “And I would think, if my mom did what she did – chemo and four brain surgeries – I can do this, so I pushed through it.” Since completing treatment, Barbara’s yearly mammograms have come back clear.

“My experience really made me look at the work I do differently,” Barbara said. “I feel like I have more of a connection with people affected by breast cancer. And of course, because now more than ever, I want there to be a cure for cancer. I had no warning signs before I went in for that first mammogram, I had no sign anything was wrong.”

There are three things Barbara finds important – spending time with family, undergoing regular mammograms and supporting Komen. “Research is what will find a cure for cancer,” she said. “When people support Komen, they’re supporting the researchers.”

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.