Editor’s Note: In July 2016, our sister site, www.todayinbermuda.com ran a series of stories featuring models appearing in the Bermuda International Collections fashion show. One of whom was featured was Michelle Hill, who bared her soul regarding her fight with cancer and her passion for life. Sadly, Ms Hill lost her battle a few days ago. We have had number of requests for her story, and in light of TIB being taken offline, we had decided to run it again on SheHub.
Here is her story, told to Robyn Bardgett.
We send the loved ones of Ms Hill our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
For some, a cancer diagnosis would feel like a death sentence, but for Michelle Hill, she has used this devastating disease as a way to push herself out of her comfort zone and become a healthier version of herself.
The finance manager was diagnosed in 2014 with metastatic invasive breast cancer. The worst news was that this aggressive form of breast cancer had spread to her lungs.
But with daughter Casera Durham, who was seven at the time of diagnosis, Michelle wasn’t going to let the disease overwhelm her. Instead she is about to step out on the runway in her first ever fashion show.
With family and friends, as well as complete strangers, telling her she had the poise and grace to model, she decided that showing up for the model call to audition for this week’s Bermuda International Collections would be the perfect New Year’s resolution.
Celebrating her 40th birthday this year also gave her the nudge she needed.
Basically, she’s told cancer to take a hike and instead used this new path as motivation to make big changes in her life.
“I see cancer as a dead end sign,” Michelle tells Today In Bermuda. “If I continued on that path I would have lost my life but I was afforded the opportunity to walk a different path, take my health back and continue on with life’s plan for me.”
While Michelle is preparing to step out of her comfort zone, she is also working every day to keep cancer at bay, but some of the changes have been instrumental in making positive changes in her life.
When she was initially diagnosed with the disease, Michelle underwent injections and three surgeries to begin her battle with cancer.
Because she suffered from severe iron deficiency she started off her fight with intravenous iron injections to increase her blood count levels.
“I [then] had a right breast mastectomy followed by several tissue expansions to prepare for the breast implant,” she explains. “At that point, the plan was to do chemotherapy, so I chose to do IVF and freeze my eggs. It was during this process that the legions on my lungs were discovered.
“The third surgery was to insert the breast implant and at the same time they took several tissue samples from my lungs to test for cancer as the legions were too small to confirm.”
Michelle now gets a shot in her stomach every three months along with a daily pill to prevent her body from producing estrogen.
But it is the holistic changes that have had the biggest affect on both her body and her mind.
“I am big on juicing both vegetables and fruits, running as exercise and trying to maintain an alkaline body,” Michelle explains about the big changes she has made to her diet. “I take numerous supplements, including vitamin C and turmeric, I have eliminated alcohol, red meat, and carcinogenic processed meats from my diet.”
And her daughter has benefited from these big changes, even if at first the cancer diagnosis was terrifying.
“My daughter was seven years old when we had to have a very mature conversation,” Michelle says. “Her biggest fear was me losing my hair, but thankfully several girls at school were either going through or have gone through this with their mommy.”
Now her daughter is the food gatekeeper and knows which food is best for her mom’s diet.
“She has studied the list and is very attentive to the food that I consume. She’ll be the first to tell me what is acidic and what I should not be eating.”
For Michelle, her biggest fear is going back to living an unhealthy lifestyle.
But her change in diet and her faith has helped her keep that fighting spirit.
“Through this experience I realize with God’s help how truly strong He created me to be. To have gone through that and to now have my cancer shrinking is amazing.”
This weekend she will strut her stuff and show the world and, most importantly her daughter, just how much of a fighter she is.
“Amir X and the Gino Group are such a positive group to be involved with; meeting new people is always great. I mentioned in auditions that I just want to get up there and show my daughter that no matter what you’re going through you should always push forward as life is here to be lived and we should do it to the fullest.”