I started working here in 2006 and shortly after, kept getting back pain that got worse and worse. I’ll never forget it…they did an MRI on a Monday. On Tuesday, the doctor called and said ‘I don’t want you to panic, but your MRI showed a growth on your vertebrae and you need to see a neurosurgeon tomorrow.’ So I went, and on Wednesday, the surgeon told me that the following Monday she would operate and remove it. The surgery was about 11 hours long, and the tests showed that I had thyroid cancer. All I kept thinking was ‘Who’s going to take care of my boys?’ They were young, five and 11, so I didn’t tell them exactly what was happening. They removed my thyroid two days after my back fusion and three months later, I began iodine radiation. I was admitted to the hospital and kept in isolation for a week…it was like a personal prison. When I came home, my boys had to stay with my mom for a week because I was still radioactive…I couldn’t be around them. I was about a year in with no issues when my MRI showed another growth on the branches of my spine. So I started another round of high intensity radiation. This time around, I told my boys. The little one didn’t really understand...the oldest was really upset. He kept asking, ‘Why does my mom have to have this?’ I remember telling him that sometimes you question why me, but then you have to ask yourself…why not me? The hardest battles are only given to the strongest soldiers. Luckily, I had my family, friends and the Plant Ops guys behind me during the battle. Those guys really came through...for Christmas, they purchased everything for my family. Two truckloads of stuff that wouldn’t even fit in my house! They took care of my rental car, gas, food, clothes…everything you could imagine…everything I could ever need during treatment. They were always there, always calling and checking on me. I’ve been cancer free since 2008 and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned...you’ve got to be there for people, be positive. If you can walk into a room and make somebody smile, brighten their day in even the smallest way, it can make a world of difference. Every day is a new day to get it better than yesterday.
-Fran Hill, Plant Operations