‘There’s no way we’re going through this again:’ Top fundraiser’s sister benefits from Komen grant
MADISON, Wis. — Sisters. Supporters. Life-savers.
Little did Rhonda Hilmershausen and Vicki Davis know six years ago, when they first started raising money for Komen’s “More Than Pink” walk, that their donations would not only help thousands of local women, but their family, too.
“I went for my annual mammogram, and they said we have to do a more conclusive one,” Davis remembered. “We need a diagnostic one.”
It was 2017 when doctors found a mass on Davis’ breast.
“And then I freaked out,” she said. That’s because Davis knew the potential diagnosis all too well. Rhonda, her younger sister, had fought and beaten breast cancer four years earlier.
“I kept thinking, ‘There is no way we’re going to go through this again,'” said Hilmershausen, scared when she heard her sister had to go back for another test.
“You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine,” she remembered telling Davis. “Because that’s what we do in our family, tell everyone everything is going to be fine.”
Secretly, Hilmershausen was ready for the worst.
“I kind of knew what I was going to have to do if her path was the same as mine,” said Davis.
Luckily, her prognosis was positive. She was a fortunate one: Davis didn’t have cancer.
But her insurance didn’t cover the procedure either, meaning she still faced mounting medical bills like many Wisconsin women who need additional testing.
“That’s where Susan G Komen came in without me even knowing it,” said Davis.
She was the recipient of a Komen grant known as the Pink Shield. Davis’ screenings were completely covered thanks to that grant, which pays 100 percent of all medical bills for people with high deductibles or those facing financial hardships.
“When I got that call, I burst into tears and I said, ‘I get it now,'” said Hilmershausen. Year after year, she is one of Komen’s top fundraisers here in south-central Wisconsin.
“It was just such a relief,” said Davis. “It took that burden of not knowing what’s going on to a different level, where it’s like, at least I don’t have to worry about the financial part of it.”
The Pink Shield grant not only pays for testing and treatment, but rides to and from appointments and child care, too.
“I’m supposed to raise funds to help people. My sister was helped,” Hilmershausen realized.
Now, a week out from race day, Hilmershausen isn’t just there with money: she’s providing meaningful messages only a survivor can.
“I need to be there, I need to listen, I need to let them know Komen can help you,” she said.
Just like it, and she, helped her sister.
“She made a difference, and she’s making a difference,” said Davis, proudly.
The year after Davis’ breast cancer scare was Hilmershausen’s biggest fundraising draw yet. This year, the sisters’ team, “Team Breast Friends,” has raised the bar even more.
News 3 Now This Morning is highlighting the stories of local women fighting for a cure to breast cancer all month long in our “Why We Walk” series.
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