Heather Hall

Heather Hall

Delta Zeta (Central Michigan University)

 

Completing a 400-mile bike ride is a triumph for anyone. And then there’s Heather Hall, who not only finished the RAGBRAI ride through Iowa (plus two more times virtually) but also did so as a three-time cancer survivor and with a titanium rod in place of her femur! Heather rode with Team Livestrong to raise funds for the organization and to prove to herself that she could do it.
 
“...here I am – strong, vibrant, healthy, throwing my arms open to life and embracing every day. Because I am a real, strong woman.”

“The last time we rode in person [in] 2019, I was four weeks out of treatment for my third cancer. I didn’t think I would be able to ride much, but I still went to support the team,” Heather recalls. “I ended up riding the most mileage with the most ease than I ever have! I think I was so grateful to be alive, on my bike, laughing with friends, raising money for one of my favorite charities. Seriously, I am blessed to be here.”
Heather was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 21, walking for graduation between chemotherapy treatments. A few years later, she had surgery for melanoma, and then nearly two decades later, a routine mammogram found early-stage breast cancer. Through it all, Heather focused on living beyond cancer – with her bike rides being just one example of that – and making a difference for others.

“She works hard to celebrate life every single day, breathing life into the line in our Symphony 'to see beauty even in the common things of life,’” says the sister who nominated her for this award. Heather agrees, sharing, “Cancer is an ugly disease, but life is a beautiful gift.”

She shares that gift through advocating to lawmakers, business leaders and doctors for an end to cancer and improved care and resources for patients. She has spoken at multiple engagements and even helped start a conference for young adult cancer survivors. Through it all, Heather is open about her own journey.
“I share my story to show that my focus on living beyond cancer is my way of living life on my own terms,” Heather says. She provides updates and advice to support survivors and caregivers on her blog, and recently launched a new motivational series, “Today I Choose,” with affirmation cards and a journal to remind people that we can choose our outlook on any situation; she hopes to expand this into workshops and a book one day. Heather emphasizes the power of community throughout her life, which includes her Alpha Chi Omega sisters.

“Through my cancer diagnoses and many other ups and downs, my sorority sisters are there. Our sisterhood reminds me that I’m surrounded by amazing women throughout my journey,” she says. “I always have believed in the importance of strong bonds between women. I grew up with two beautiful (blood) sisters and knew when I went off to college that I would need good female friends beside me. I found my bonus sisters in Alpha Chi Omega.”

These sisters have helped Heather grow into a woman who finds joy in living her story and helping others do the same.

“I never expected to be diagnosed with bone cancer at 21. The thought of clearing two more cancers was unimaginable,” she says. “But here I am – strong, vibrant, healthy, throwing my arms open to life and embracing every day. Because I am a real, strong woman.”

You can follow Heather’s journey on heathershangout.com . Her Today I Choose products are available at todayichooseseries.com, and a portion of the proceeds benefit cancer charities.

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