PINK FIGHTER

HOLLY HURST as tough as they come at McMa­hon Sta­dium

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - daustin@post­media.com @Dan­nyAustin_9 DANIEL AUSTIN

With all due re­spect to the play­ers who will take the field for the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers and B.C. Lions on Satur­day evening, there might not be any­one tougher at McMa­hon Sta­dium than Holly Hurst.

Sure, the foot­ball play­ers will be tack­ling and hit­ting and putting their bod­ies on the line, but Hurst has been fight­ing breast can­cer for 21 years.

There’s tough, and then there’s Hurst.

With the Stam­ped­ers hold­ing their an­nual Pink Power game to raise money and aware­ness of women’s can­cers, it’s as good a time as any to tell Hurst’s story.

“I told my doc­tors from

Day 1 that I was go­ing to watch my daugh­ters grow up,” Hurst said. “I’ve had my ups and I’ve cer­tainly had my downs. One of the things I have learned, or that I taught my­self, is it’s mind over mat­ter. I’ve been do­ing this for 21 years and I think it’s be­cause I tell my­self that (the can­cer) is not go­ing to win. I’m go­ing to win. I have grand­chil­dren now that I want to see grow up.” Hurst is a reg­u­lar face dur­ing Stam­ped­ers games at McMa­hon Sta­dium, and has been for the last 13 sea­sons. She first started work­ing at the South East Pass Gate, but can now be found by the gate that vis­it­ing teams come out of, right down on the field.

It’s prime real es­tate, as she calls it, and Hurst takes her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously. If you don’t have the right cre­den­tials, good luck get­ting past her.

“Any­body that’s not sup­posed to be there, doesn’t get in,” Hurst said.

This week­end, Hurst will be talk­ing with the Stam­ped­ers Outrid­ers about her long fight with breast can­cer.

It be­gan in 1997.

She was play­ing with her daugh­ters at the time and one of them ac­ci­den­tally kicked her in the chest. It left an un­usual mark, and a cou­ple weeks later she got it checked out.

Within weeks, she’d been di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer and was un­der­go­ing surgery. That was only the be­gin­ning of a dif­fi­cult jour­ney.

In March 1999, a tu­mour was found in the scar tis­sue from her orig­i­nal surgery.

In 2001, doc­tors found that her breast can­cer had spread into her bones.

In 2002, she had ra­di­a­tion on a tu­mour in her scapula.

A hys­terec­tomy fol­lowed in 2003.

In 2009, she had an in­cred­i­bly painful re­con­struc­tive surgery that in­volved more than 300 stitches. It was “worth ev­ery minute of it,” though.

In 2013, Hurst started hav­ing pain again in her scapula and had three treat­ments of ra­di­a­tion.

Two years later, five more treat­ments, and in 2016 “all hell broke loose” as a bone scan re­vealed metastatic can­cer in her spine, hip, shoul­der, breast bone and ribs.

Hurst has been through just about ev­ery treat­ment imag­in­able and has al­ways kept fight­ing.

But she’s also had sup­port, and that’s some­thing she’ll em­pha­size when she speaks with the Outrid­ers on Satur­day.

“First thing, I strongly be­lieve in talk­ing about it,” Hurst said. “A lot of women just don’t even tell peo­ple they have (can­cer), and I don’t know, I guess for some peo­ple that might work, but there are a lot of sup­port group and there’s a lot of help out there for you, and it’s all women that are in the same place you are.

“We’re all on a jour­ney, just at dif­fer­ent places.”

Speak­ing with Hurst, it quickly be­comes clear that she’s got a story that ev­ery­body could learn from.

A mother to two daugh­ters and two step-daugh­ters and a grand­mother to five chil­dren, she’s eager to share her story to help oth­ers who have to fight can­cer them­selves.

“I’ve found over the years that shar­ing re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence, be­cause then you don’t feel like you’re car­ry­ing the en­tire bur­den,” Hurst said. “You feel like you have friends who un­der­stand, even if they’re not at the same part of their jour­ney.”

DANIEL AUSTIN/POST­MEDIA

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