this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she’s sharing the story of how she’s gotten to this point.
“You’re fighting,” she said. “Keep your head down. Pray a lot. Enjoy every little moment, even when you don’t feel good, because you don’t know …”
Hall tends to be private. Her husband, Derrick, is the public figure, but “having been through it,” he said, “we feel like it’s our responsibility to help as many people as we can and drive awareness.”
Count the eight women you’re closest to, physically or emotionally. Chances are one of them will develop breast cancer in their lives. When it happens, they’re not going to need football players in pink cleats. They’re going to need information.
Amy Hall talks about specifics, using words like “triple-negative” and “needle biopsy” and “bilateral mastectomy.” She and her husband are experts in a subject no one wants to know about.
She also talks about blood.
The type of cancer she had, Derrick Hall said, “ended up being one of the worst diagnoses … it requires very aggressive treatment.”
It’s so destructive that it kills the patient along with the cancer. The goal, of course, is to take out the disease first. But there are no guarantees.
One risk involves white and red blood cells, if a patient’s counts drop too low, it can be fatal. Amy Hall hit this point three times.
“That’s how you know the chemo’s working, it’s attacking your healthy cells, and so sometimes you get to that danger zone, and they have to give you a transfusion,” she said. “I had three.
“Three people saved my life, just by giving their blood to me. I get teary thinking about that. I am so thankful to all the people who donate blood. You don’t realize how many people that are dealing with cancer who depend on that.”
The Halls said they relied heavily on faith.
“Regardless of affiliation or denomination,” Derrick Hall said, “you feel closer to God and others, and what we both heard from everyone was that they’re praying for you. And you hear it, and when you say that or hear it before you’re diagnosed, it doesn’t have the same meaning.
“You really feel the prayer."
He would know, having survived prostate cancer himself six years ago.
Amy Hall said she would have random encounters that she became convinced were divine.
“I would tell my kids, ‘This wasn’t just a coincidence,’” she said.
“I had a woman say, ‘I have triple-negative breast cancer, too.’ It was just a stranger, and it came right at a time where I was feeling nervous, my bloodcell count was low, I was scared. And I feel like every time I had those little blips in the road, something would happen, and I would say, ‘It’s all those prayers.’”
One random act grabbed headlines. Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray held up a sign for Amy Hall at the AllStar Game. The Halls had no idea it was coming and said they were moved to tears by the gesture when they saw it on TV along with the rest of the nation.
“Completely broke down,” Derrick Hall said. “Started bawling.”
As she’s gotten better, Amy Hall said she has a new appreciation for mundane things, like driving her daughter to school and making her son’s bed in his dorm room — she wasn’t able to help move him in as a freshman.
“That was awesome,” she said. “it’s the little day-to-day things that you don’t think mean anything in your life, but those are the things that mean the most.”
There’s another element, “Mama Strong.” It was coined by her daughter and printed onto pink wristbands.
It captured the final secret to Amy Hall’s resilience.
“I can’t believe you never complain,” her husband would say.
She always replied the same way: “Not an option.”