Breast cancer survivor spreads hope through support group


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Finding out that you have breast cancer can be a life-changing moment. For two Wilmington friends, they found out just that less than two months of each other.

They knew from the beginning though that they had to turn fear into faith.

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“Breast cancer not only wounds your body, but your emotions and spirit,” said breast cancer survivor Connie Hill.

Hill and her friend Renee Ballard had their world rock back in 2003 when they both were diagnosed with breast cancer within six weeks of each other.

“It was a shock,” Hill said. “I was 34 years old with a 1 and a 3-year-old, so I definitely struggled. But we got through it with the grace of God and with love and outpouring of community support, but a lot of women don’t get that support.”

The ladies started the organization Lump to Laughter to make sure no one has to go through the battle alone.

“We did lose Renee in 2009 and in her memory we continued this,” Hill said.

The organization is dedicated to providing support for those newly-diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the past 10 years, Connie says she has met thousands of women facing a similar situation that she once was in too.

“We have been doing this out of breakfast nooks and garages, meeting in lobbies and conference rooms, even meeting women in parking lots,” Hill said. “I mean whatever it was, whatever it takes to serve the community who are going through breast cancer is what we did.”

This month they moved into a permanent location at The Landing in Wrightsville Beach where women can come there to meet, pray, and support one another.

Wigs, hats, and even what they call Hope Packages are available for women free of charge.

“We serve eight counties with our Angel fund and that provides financial assistance to women who are going through breast cancer such as paying for their mortgage or car payment,” Hill said. “We even bought a car for a lady last year who was walking to her treatments and work.”

While success stories are not 100 percent now, she believes through faith, grace, and hope that maybe one day it can be.

“It is very, very tough and you know, sometimes you have survivor guilt, but a part of me just knows I need to just keep plugging along for them and everyone who is diagnosed,” Hill said. “The more we get the word out, the more someone might do a breast self exam who never has done one before and may find their breast cancer early.”

Hill says coming soon there will be a free meeting on the third Thursday of each month where you can meet with others who offer services and support to those battling breast cancer.

You can learn more about the organization or donate on their website.