Survivor Stories 2014:
Brenda Hawkes


1. How did you first find out you had cancer?

I had a biopsy and waited for a call from my Breast Surgeon. I guess I knew it was going to be bad, but still had that sinking feeling when I heard the words “Are you in a safe place?”

2. How did you react when you heard the news?

A bit of shock. And then determination that this would not change my life. Boy was I wrong.

3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?

Surgery, chemo, radiation

4. What most surprised you about your treatment?

How debilitating the treatments are. How very tired and weak I got.

5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Ask questions, read materials (not just google) and be proactive. Talk to survivors, nurses, and other caretakers. Try to remember that cancer affects all factors of your life and the people around you, however, it may only be a small window of time. Then life comes back into focus and this experience becomes something you can draw strength from.

6. How long have you been cancer free?

I was diagnosed in May of 2006. I currently show No Evidence of Disease.

7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?

I learned that I am stronger than I thought. That I am more emotional than I thought. And I learned to hold my family and blessings closer.

8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?

You can do this! I mean, if you are a mother, you know how hard that is. So, if you can be a mother, you can fight cancer.


Brenda Hawkes was diagnosed with Stage 3B, triple negative breast cancer in 2006, which spread to her lymph nodes, leading to a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. … She tried to continue her work as Executive Director for a non-profit and maintain her life, but eventually lost her job as a result of her diagnosis. Although devastated by the job loss, Brenda saw it as a gift. Her company didn’t want her, but her family did. Her cancer was debilitating, taking three years to recover. Today, Brenda has a job she loves as the Patient Advocacy Manager at Diplomat.

On October 2nd, she performed in Dancing with the Survivors in Bloomfield Hills, MI, a fundraising gala held in 20 cities nationwide. Dancing with the Survivors features breast cancer survivors paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios for an evening of music, cocktails, food and ballroom dance. All proceeds benefit The Pink Fund, a national organization that provides individuals in active treatment for breast cancer with up to 90 days of financial assistance to cover non-medical expenses, such as health insurance premiums, housing, transportation and utilities.

Donations for Dancing with the Survivors will be accepted through October 31st, 2014. To support Brenda, click here.