Breast cancer survivor now battling multiple myeloma


Connie Hoskins has heard the word “cancer” twice in recent years.

First, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2019. She went through ultrasounds, biopsies, tests, chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation and hair loss.

She had two clear mammograms in 2020 and 2021 and is hopeful for another one this year.

In early 2021, though, a bone marrow biopsy revealed she had multiple myeloma. She went through surgery to put her port back in, treatments, MRIs, a stem cell transplant, a surgery and chemotherapy.

She’s now five months in remission but will have to battle this type of cancer for the rest of her life.

“It’s still a daily battle, but my God is so good to me,” the 55-year-old Uniontown woman said. “I just gave this whole battle over to him. He gave me peace that I can’t explain today. I’m still here to tell my story. Thank you, Jesus.”

The Crothersville native graduated from Crothersville High School in 1986 and then went to college for a while until learning it wasn’t for her, so she got married to Chris Hoskins and worked in factories.

That type of work wasn’t for her, either, so her mother asked about being a substitute for her in the kitchen at Crothersville Community Schools. That turned into a full-time gig until she switched to being a personal aide for a special needs student and then a high school aide, and she’s now the junior-senior high school librarian. She’s in her 18th year at the school.

At the start of fall break in 2019, while others were leaving for vacation, Hoskins got called in to have a second mammogram. During her yearly physical, she told her doctor, Michael Kilpatrick, she found a knot on her right breast.

She was due for her mammogram anyway, so she got that and then received the call about a second one because the doctor saw something he really didn’t like. She also had ultrasounds and biopsies.

“That was a big week in and out for a lot of appointments,” Hoskins said. “Then they did some tests on it, and they found out yes, it was, so the call was ‘You definitely have breast cancer.’ Oh my goodness, it’s the words you never want to hear.”

After talking to Dr. Dolores Olivarez at the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center in Seymour, Hoskins met with Schneck Medical Center surgeon Dr. Amanda Dick, who told her she had invasive ductal carcinoma Stage 2A HER2-, but it wasn’t in her lymph nodes.

Dick made chemo, surgical and radiation plans for Hoskins. She had a port put in and started chemo treatment in November, and that continued through February 2020.

“Chemo was very rough,” Hoskins said. “I got so weak. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help. I couldn’t take a shower by myself without help. I was very weak. I lost my hair. That was the hardest.”

Her hair later started to grow back nicely, and while she wasn’t able to eat much, she was determined to have at least one bite of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

“I couldn’t keep anything down. I was so sick, and Chris aggravated me to death ‘Connie, you’ve got to drink, you’ve got to eat,’” she said. “Nothing tasted good.”

On April 10, 2020, about a month after the COVID-19 pandemic started, Hoskins had surgery to remove the cancer.

“Being a cancer patient with a low immune system, they sent me home after surgery, 13 to 14 hours at the hospital,” she said. “I was glad to get to go home.”

A month later, she started radiation with Dr. Kevin McMullen at the cancer center. That lasted through July.

“I had the best care,” she said of the cancer center’s staff. “They were wonderful, bent over backwards to help get you a warm blanket to snacks to drinks or just sit and talk to you.”

When it came time for her mammogram in October 2020, Hoskins said she was so scared, but the technician took good care of her. The results showed she was clear of cancer.

“They said, ‘You’re all good. They look the same as last time or before all this,’” she said. “After surgery, the doctor called me, she said, ‘We feel very good that we took extra even around,’ so she said, ‘You’re good to go.’ It was not in my lymph nodes or anything, so that was a good thing.”

Her mammogram in October 2021 was clear, too, but when she had bloodwork done, Olivarez was concerned about her high level of calcium and recommended a bone marrow test.

Hoskins knew those hurt, so she put it off for a few months. Olivarez mentioned it again during a follow-up visit, thinking Hoskins had multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that begins in plasma cells.

According to, multiple myeloma cells are abnormal plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) that build up in the bone marrow and form tumors in many bones of the body. Normal plasma cells make antibodies to help the body fight infection and disease.

As the number of multiple myeloma cells increases, more antibodies are made. This can cause the blood to thicken and keep the bone marrow from making enough healthy blood cells. Multiple myeloma cells also damage and weaken the bone.

“Chris said, ‘She’s doing great.’ I said, ‘No, no, no. I’ll do this, but when it comes back fine, will you leave me alone?’” Hoskins said, smiling.

Now looking back, she said she’s thankful Olivarez was persistent.

“Thank God we had the breast cancer or we would have never known this, and I probably would have been gone today. I would not have been here on this Earth,” Hoskins said.

On Jan. 28, 2021, she had the bone marrow biopsy. On Feb. 15, her daughter’s birthday, she received a call from the cancer center letting her know Olivarez wanted to see her.

“When she walked into the room, she never took her eyes off me. I knew I had another cancer,” Hoskins said. “I didn’t want to know, but I knew.”

Chris cried, and Connie was in shock. After a few minutes, she looked at Olivarez and said, “So what’s the next step?”

Olivarez said she was a prime candidate for a stem cell transplant at the Indiana University Health Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

Hoskins had her port put back in, started treatments and had MRIs done until going to see her new doctor, Attaya Suvannasankha, in April. Hoskins learned the cancer was Stage 2 and in 60% of her bones, but her medications were working, she was an excellent candidate for a stem cell transplant and she was young and in good health.

In mid-August, she started giving herself shots to produce lots of stem cells to prepare for her first stem cell collection. It took two days in the hospital to collect enough stem cells.

After spending five days at home, she returned to Indianapolis for three weeks in the hospital, where she was given a powerful chemo and went through two transplants.

“I lost my hair again. That was a hard one, too, because I like my hair,” Hoskins said. “Then I was not able to get out of bed and couldn’t move, just exhausted.”

She finally reached a point where she could sit up in a chair and then was able to go outside and walk for 15 minutes. Her levels started climbing back up, so she was able to go home.

Since then, she has rotated her monthly doctor visits between Indianapolis and Seymour.

She’s now about five months in remission, and her chemo pill recently went from 10 milligrams to 5.

“They are small victories, but they are huge victories,” Hoskins said. “We celebrate the small stuff.”

At one point, Olivarez asked Hoskins why she agreed to do the stem cell transplant.

“I said, ‘Of course, I don’t want to leave my husband,’ but I said, ‘I want grandbabies one of these days. That’s a joy.’ I said, ‘I want to be able to experience that joy,’” Hoskins said.

Her positive attitude and her Lord and savior have gotten her through it all, too.

“I just had peace through it all. I prayed daily. I read my devotionals. But (God) gave me peace that’s unexplainable,” she said. “Still to this day, people are like, ‘How do you do this?’ and I say, ‘I don’t worry. I don’t have that worry.’”

She said she gets her strength from God.

“You just cling to it and you go with it,” she said. “I never walked alone. He never leaves us. He walks right through it with us.”

She also said her husband has been her rock and she couldn’t have done all of this without him, and she’s fortunate to have other family members and her work and church families.

“My motto the whole time was ‘Faith over fear,’” Hoskins said. “You can’t worry and then take it back and give it to God and then take it back. You just have to give it and say, ‘It’s whatever. I’m a winner-winner no matter what. If he takes me, I’m a winner, and if he heals me, I’m a winner.’”

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