Granby resident wins award for essay sharing her battle with breast cancer
It was a sudden, unexpected blurt from her long-time radiologist that led Penny Hamilton to discover she likely had breast cancer.
The rapid-fire sentence: “We probably found breast cancer,” stung her ears that day in October 2017. But it wasn’t unfamiliar as Hamilton first received a breast cancer diagnosis 10 years earlier.
Today, Hamilton is a two-time breast cancer survivor. And it has led her to share some important perceptions.
“The first insight I gathered after diagnosis was that finding your way in this foreign experience is difficult,” Hamilton wrote on the subject.
It was her writing of a personal essay, “Lessons of a Pink Warrior,” that recently won Hamilton an award from the Colorado Authors’ League.
Published in Conquer, the official patient magazine of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators, Hamilton used her immense writing talent to communicate two of the most difficult times of her life.
“This is a long journey. I felt like the mythical Jason and his Greek Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece, having to fight the dragon,” Hamilton wrote of her experience battling breast cancer.
But she emerged from both battles victorious, with a mission to connect with others struggling through the same, devastating ordeal.
Hamilton said she used positive imagery — pasting photos of future events on her room, desk and car — to help focus her mind on the success of treatment. “Images and words have immense power,” she wrote. It is best for the patient to “turn the power of the mind” to health, healing and wellness, she advocated.
She shared within her essay the fraught journey of being brought to face one’s own mortality. But quickly, after that first diagnosis in 2007, she was enveloped in a world of pink, embraced by other “pink warriors,” as she described them. She was welcomed to a “sisterhood.”
“Many were more than 20-year survivors. What a blessing to feel their love and be able to ask them personal questions,” she wrote. “My spirit and my outlook were lifted up.”
Since then, Hamilton has focused on making a difference in her community, using her time wisely and sharing all the love and support she was given throughout her battles with others.
Hamilton is well-known throughout Grand County as an avid historian and aviation enthusiast. She, along with her husband, Bill Hamilton, founded the Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum, located at the Granby-Grand County Airport. She’s also a profound author, most recently publishing a children’s book, “A to Z: Your Grand County History Alphabet,” for the Grand County Historical Association.
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