Written by a Friend of Safiya Hill
Safiya deserves to be honored simply because she is an amazing individual. She is a great mother, sister, daughter, cousin, etc. She has gone through her cancer experience with such admirable humility. Safiya has not allowed breast cancer to stop her in any way, shape or form. She has, in fact, embraced her “new normal” with so much flair!
From the very beginning of her cancer treatment, Safiya has always been a mom, first and foremost, then a cancer patient. She has in every way continued to be a mother to her two children. She arranged her doctor’s appointments around their school schedules. Not missing their first day back, after the summer break, was a must for her. I had the extreme pleasure of visiting with her very often as she was hospitalized a few times during treatment. During a couple of those visits, I witnessed Safiya checking in with her children’s teachers. She never once used her hospitalization or health as an excuse for work not being turned in on time or for out of the ordinary behavior being exhibited. I so admired that about her. She was not going to and did not let cancer allow her to slack off from being a mother at all times. I know, at times, she probably wanted to shut herself off from everything but she pushed through to make sure that her kids were in school, getting homework done, had a hot meal, still had birthday celebrations and reprimanded if necessary.
Safiya has an amazing and relentless faith. I truly believe it’s what carried her through this ordeal. I recall her saying to me “I never asked why me God? But why not me?” She knows and believes that God will never give any of us more than we can handle. And she has handled this bout with cancer with so much grace and poise. Her Sundays began with church and ended with football. She is the ultimate Texas (read JJ Watt) fan! I looked forward to her Facebook posts to show off her Sunday’s best and then her team spirit. Safiya continued this even after she lost her hair and weight. She is probably the only person I know who has expressed angst over losing weight. She loved her curves. She still felt and knew she was beautiful. She can teach so many so much about self-esteem.
I truly believe that her faith is also what maintained her upbeat attitude. I looked forward to our visits and hearing “how are you today, beautiful?” Amidst chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, trips to the ER and having to have her gall bladder removed she still always put the feelings of others first. She always has a compliment for someone else. She was always genuinely concerned about my day. Even when she “vented” to me it was never a complaint. I remember thinking I can learn a lot from this woman. I’m sure at times she wanted to cry, yell, hit something (or someone) but she never let on to that. She always had a pleasant greeting for and fun rapport with every nurse, doctor, administrator—anyone she came in contact with. She even developed relationships with other patients. When Safiya completed her radiation treatment and was able to “ring the bell” marking the end of that phase of treatment, she included another patient, whom she’d befriended, to take pictures with her and her family. She then encouraged those still awaiting their radiation treatment by telling them to “keep the faith” it would only be a matter of time before they too would be ringing the bell.