Donna Hopkins has survived breast cancer twice and lost part of her left leg due to an unrelated blood clot. But none of those trials has slowed her down. In fact, this lifelong athlete went on to become a competitive rower — and now she’s even thinking about trying ice hockey.
“I tell people I’m a miracle walking,” Hopkins says. “(Fitness) is the key thing through my breast cancer — two bouts with that — and my leg amputation: If I hadn’t been physically fit and in good health, I wouldn’t have made it. My body was strong to go through all of that.”
Hopkins was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, after she found a lump while she was sitting at work one day.
“I always say that God allowed that lump to pop up, because otherwise, I was only 36 years old, not even at the age to get mammograms,” she says. “I immediately called my primary doctor and scheduled an appointment. You can’t wait around because if you act immediately when you find things, the chances of you living are greater.”
She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment, but two years later the cancer returned. This time, the aggressive form of the disease was in the lower quadrant of her breast, closer to the chest wall. She had a mastectomy and has been cancer-free since, and counsels others to make sure they are as informed of their diagnosis as possible.
“It is important for you to really educate yourself, dig deeper, find out all the information, ask questions, because in order to make the right decisions for your situation, you need to know all the facts,” Hopkins says.