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Benefit slated for Hillmers

September 20, 2012
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - "At the age of 37, I didn't think I needed a mammogram," Larissa Hillmer admits.

That was earlier this year, when she discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam.

"I found the lump in late February or early March, but I didn't get it looked at until May," she said. "I was kind of hoping it'd go away."

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Larissa Hillmer and husband Chris will dance the night away at Flying Goose Campground on Saturday as part of a benefit. Larissa was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and is undergoing treatment.

It didn't, and within a week of going to the doctor, Hillmer was diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy in June, and began chemotherapy in August.

"There were some setbacks because when I began chemotherapy, I had an open wound that we believed was healed and it wasn't," she said.

Hillmer says the chemo has left her feeling worn down, but she continues to work at the Great River Energy power plant near Trimont between rounds of chemo and trips to see her surgeon in Rochester.

Hillmer also receives lots of support from family, friends and co-workers.

"Last Thursday, I finished one medication, and now I get to start another one for another 12 weeks," she said. "So far, there's been nothing out of the ordinary ... We've had an awesome support system, I couldn't ask for more there."

Part of the support comes from a regular group of campers at Flying Goose Campground east of Fairmont.

"We're seasonal fixtures at the Flying Goose," said Brenda Stevens, a friend of the Hillmers who is helping organize a benefit for the family at Flying Goose on Saturday. "The owners of the campground, Gary and Linda Hanson, came up with the idea of a party for Larissa ... As we started planning, we realized we wanted it to be something more, so we made it into a benefit, not necessarily for raising funds, but more for showing support."

The day begins noon Saturday at Flying Goose. Along with a silent auction and bean bag tournament, the barbershop quartet "Songquest" will perform at 5:30 p.m. There will be karaoke at 7 p.m., and a dollar dance for the Hillmers at 8:30 p.m. Anyone attending the event can make a donation.

Learning of the events, Hillmer was visibly moved.

"It's humbling," she said. "I feel really, really blessed."



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