Rhonda Hilmershausen, a TDS veteran of fifteen years, has a magnetic personality, and inspiring story perfect to share during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
There are moments in life that stop time, for Rhonda it was the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer.
“When you are told you have the ‘big C’—cancer— everything you know up to that point changes,” said Rhonda. “Your view of the future becomes instantly cloudy, your hopes and dreams seem out of reach and you, of course, think you are going to die regardless of what you’ve been told.”
Rhonda’s breast cancer diagnosis almost two years ago was quite a shock—especially since there is no genetic history of breast cancer in her family. Because of her diagnosis, Rhonda’s two young daughters are now statistically more at risk for breast cancer, which was one of her biggest fears after being diagnosed. She didn’t want her daughters to fear this growing up based on what they saw, so Rhonda battled her disease with a strong, positive demeanor.
She faced her chemotherapy head-on and the week her beloved hair (which Rhonda felt defined her) fell out, Rhonda threw a party. Of course, the guest list was long because Rhonda, being who she is, has an amazing network of friends.
“I cried the hardest when the razor hit my head,” said Rhonda. “But the love around me during it and when it was done is something I cannot describe. Through the whole process, my support network is what kept me going and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Thankfully she was deemed cancer free in 2013. She is still with TDS, doing the job she loves with a team she enjoys working with.
“There is no greater feeling than looking forward to seeing your coworkers—because you genuinely like them,” said Rhonda. “It’s also great to sit down to a work week of responsibilities that challenge you, encourage you, and push you to be better.”
Since battling breast cancer, Rhonda has stayed busy outside of TDS as well. She was named one of 14 Smart Komen Champions for this upcoming October. Along with surviving cancer, Rhonda received this recognition for her role in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Madison, Wisconsin.
Rhonda is co-captain of ‘Team Breast Friends’ with former TDS employee Teresa Nichols-Trace, who just finished treatments for her second bout with breast cancer. Their team was the largest team in the community/family team division. Rhonda also made the Pink Ribbon Honor Roll for 2014 by being the sixth highest fundraiser. As part of this role as a Champion, she was interviewed on TV just a few weeks ago:
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Rhonda is so dedicated and passionate to the Susan G. Komen organization. She says, “they are the only breast cancer charity that utilizes 100 percent of its funds to support breast cancer patients and research.”
TDS is lucky to have a person as inspiring and passionate as Rhonda—who urges you to know your risk, get screened, know what’s normal, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Please visit the Susan G. Komen Screening and Early Detection page for more information.
Guest Blogger: Luke Brooks
Luke is the intern for the Corporate Communications team at TDS and does a lot more than brew coffee and make copies. He is called on for anything from press releases to multimedia projects. Luke is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Communication Arts and Journalism and Mass Communication. His strongest passions are movies and sports.
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