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Anna Hipp, right, with her friend and founder of Paddle Against Cancer, Gene Evans.

In October of 2016, I noticed that my right breast looked larger than the left one. My doctor first suspected inflammation, but diagnostic tests confirmed I had cancer. I was 47 years old and never imagined becoming a cancer patient. 

A dear friend of mine Gene Evans, stage-four kidney cancer survivor and founder of Paddle Against Cancer, suggested I make an appointment at Moffitt. I underwent a procedure to discover that my cancer had not only spread to my left breast but had moved into my bones. My life was forever changed that day when I learned I had metastatic breast cancer — the most advanced stage of breast cancer for which there is no cure. 

Dr. John Kiluk, my surgeon, explained that a cancerous breast is like a cave with a monster inside. He didn’t want to go in with his sword and just try to kill it before knowing its size. First, he would throw in "hand grenades" to weaken it and then kill it. Despite the darkness looming ahead of me, that analogy gave me comfort. I knew I was in good hands and each person at Moffitt — from the valet to the registration staff to the clinical team —was phenomenally supportive and uplifting. They held my hand through each step and inspired me to keep fighting. 

Yet my battle is not over, and I go to Moffitt every three weeks for IV treatment to manage my cancer and throw a few more “hand grenades.” I will do this for the rest of my life. Fortunately, the treatments are working, and I feel like I’ve gotten my life back. 

I will be participating in Paddle Against Cancer this weekend for the third time. Moffitt saved my life, and I paddle to bring hope, courage and inspiration to those who are facing this terrible disease. I wouldn’t be here without Moffitt and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to support finding a cure. 

No one knows when and where cancer might show up in a person. The deadly disease has no age requirement, neither does it discriminate. That’s why it’s important to come together for cancer research. 

Join me this Saturday, May 26, at The Club at Treasure Island to take a stand against cancer.

Miles for Moffitt Tattoos 

This story was provided by guest writer Anna Hipp.