Denee Hacker battled breast cancer together.
Denee Hacker underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, 17 Herceptin and Projeta doses, a double mastectomy, 28 rounds of radiation and a full hysterectomy.

The bond between a mother and daughter is undeniable and unwavering. Just ask Denee Hacker and her mother, Pat Mays. The two women, while 30 years apart, battled breast cancer together.
The Daughter
Denee was showering when she felt a small lump near her armpit. She had a normal mammogram just two months prior but called her doctor anyway. She was sent for another mammogram, an ultrasound and eventually a biopsy. Then, on March 22, 2022, she was officially diagnosed with cancer.
“When I had the biopsy, I joked with the radiologist saying my birthday is tomorrow so unless you’ve got good news – don’t call me,” Denee remembers. “He called me on my 41st birthday to tell me I had invasive ductile carcinoma.” That’s when the shock set in. Denee was young, she had two daughters and a husband to live for. She didn’t have breast cancer in her family. How could this be happening?
She was referred to Brian Geister, M.D., at the INTEGRIS Health Cancer Institute in Oklahoma City. “When I met Denee she was understandably anxious. She had just heard the words no one ever wants to hear. We talked a lot about her options and her faith,” says Geister. “I could tell she was a fighter so we opted for an aggressive treatment plan.”
Denee underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, 17 Herceptin and Projeta doses, a double mastectomy, 28 rounds of radiation and a full hysterectomy. Denee admits it was overwhelming at times but says she tried to stay positive. “Anytime I caught myself being negative, I would reframe my thoughts.” She explains, “For example, if I found myself thinking ‘I feel like I got hit by a truck today’, I would adjust that thought to something like ‘I can really feel the chemo working today’. It was a trick Dr. Geister taught me that truly helped me survive.”
The Mother
As fate would have it in the summer of 2022, as Denee was finishing her last chemotherapy treatment, Pat was about to embark on a battle of her own. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer not even six months after my daughter’s diagnosis,” Pat exclaims. Her cancer was found during a routine mammogram and was slightly different from her daughter’s disease, but still she couldn’t help but think, “What are the odds that we would both be fighting breast cancer at almost the exact same time?”
Pat also saw Dr. Geister at the INTEGRIS Health Cancer Institute. On occasion, the two women would share a treatment room and sit side by side while receiving their medication. Both, trying to be strong for the other. “I wanted to show my daughter that I would be ok no matter the outcome because God was with me,” declares Pat. Denee wanted to be a positive inspiration to her mother. “I wanted to prove to her that she too could fight this and win – just like I was.”
In all, Pat received 12 chemotherapy rounds, a series of shots, nine infusions and a double mastectomy.
The Gift
Both women are now cancer-free and say their shared experience makes Mother’s Day that much more special. “Cancer will show you what really matters in life,” proclaims Denee. “It has a way of bringing families even closer together.” Pat is just thankful to get to spend another Mother’s Day with her three daughters and six granddaughters, all of whom will get routinely evaluated for breast cancer for the rest of their lives.
The mother/daughter duo wants to encourage others to conduct self-breast exams and receive regular mammograms. They say to do it for yourself, and for those you love and hold dear. Click here to schedule your mammogram today.