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Teresa Hedrick shares her story as cancer survivor to educate, inspire

Teresa Hedrick, pictured with her husband and sons, is a breast cancer survivor and inspirational speaker at Hope Lights the Way.

Teresa Hedrick, pictured with her husband and sons, is a breast cancer survivor and inspirational speaker at Hope Lights the Way.

Teresa Hedrick recalls receiving hundreds of cards from her co-workers throughout her battle with breast cancer.

“It was amazing to see that people took the time to remember me,” said Hedrick, Employee Health manager at Akron Children’s Hospital. “I have personally experienced the Children’s family.”

Now she’s hoping to return the gesture and touch the lives of her co-workers and others.

Hedrick gave the keynote at Hope Lights the Way on Oct. 1 in Perkins Square Park on the hospital’s Akron campus.

In its 9th year, this event focuses on cancer awareness. Employees, patient families and members of the community can celebrate, honor and remember loved ones affected by the disease with a luminaria.

“I hope to inspire someone to get a mammogram,” Hedrick said. “Despite my medical knowledge as a nurse and my mother being a breast cancer survivor, I failed to get regular mammograms for years.”

Hedrick was 50 years old when she discovered a wrinkle on her breast. She was sent by her doctor for a mammogram and ultrasound. Within two weeks, she had a biopsy and a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“I had three kids under the age of 20 at the time,” she said. “I had to do everything possible to fight. I had chemotherapy and radiation. After receiving a positive BRCA genetic test, I went through a hysterectomy and a double elective mastectomy.”

Her struggle with cancer lasted two and half years. Now, Hedrick is celebrating. She is four years cancer-free.

“I felt nothing but love and support during my battle,” said Hedrick. “Now I would like to provide support and education to my co-workers and families. No one is untouched by cancer, and no one should be alone.”