La Jolla’s Lisa Hinkley: Surviving breast cancer ‘as good as it gets’

Editor’s note: As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Light is sharing several stories about people who have survived the disease as well as those working to improve their odds.

Last July, Bird Rock resident Lisa Hinkley, who owns Green Flash Brewing Company with her husband Mike. was on vacation last July when she began reading Kelly Corrigan’s book, “The Middle Place.” She credits this book with inspiring her to perform her own self-exam that led her to find a large lump that an MRI revealed was a 5-centimeter tumor.

In May, after surgery and chemotherapy, Lisa got a clean bill of health from her physicians. “And that,” she says, “is about as good as it gets.”

To celebrate, the Hinkleys are making the brewery’s 9th anniversary celebration at the new location at 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd. on Nov. 12 a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For details go to


We asked Lisa to talk about her experience.

Q: When were you diagnosed and what type of diagnosis did you receive?

A: I was first diagnosed on Aug. 17, 2010. I was originally diagnosed with DCIS, but later found to have Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, that had spread to the sentinal lymph node.

Q: What type of treatment did you receive?

A: I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, on Oct. 5, followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, which started on Nov. 4 and finished on Jan. 4.

Q: Was there any one person/thing/routine that served as your rock during this time?

A: My husband Mike was definitely my rock during that time. He put everything on hold for me, and made himself available for all doctors appointments and any other support I needed. It was so great to have him at the appointments. I was so overwhelmed that I would forget things the doctor said, yet he remembered everything.

Also, while I was going through diagnosis and treatment, Green Flash was in the midst of a major brewery expansion as well as a complete packaging redesign. Focusing on these projects helped take my mind off the severity of the situation and staying busy made the time pass quickly.

I would be remiss not to mention all of my amazing friends who were a beacon of light during this time. They sent constant messages, offering support and prayers, and I felt so loved and cared for!

Another dear and supportive gesture which I truly appreciated: My son Michael arranged for his school’s football team — the Bishop’s Knights — to wear pink socks and wristbands at football games during October.

Q: How did this diagnosis impact your finances? Did you have any insurance struggles?

A: I am fortunate to have very good health insurance coverage, so my out of pocket expenses were minimal.

Q: Did this diagnosis impact your work? If so, how?

A: Because we are self-employed, I was lucky to have the flexibility to go to doctor’s appointments and take whatever time I needed during treatment. Everyone at our company was extremely supportive.

Q: Is there anything about this experience you want people to know, that they may not know or is not commonly known?

A: Mammograms, although extremely valuable, are not a fail-safe diagnosis.I found my very large tumor through self-exam, only three months after my mammogram came back negative. Women with dense breast tissue need to be especially vigilant about self-exams, and if anything does not look or feel right, insist on additional tests (i.e., ultrasound, biopsy). Breast cancer, if detected early, is 100 percent treatable.

Did you know?

• One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

• The most significant risk factors are being a female and getting older.

• Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate.

• Breast cancer typically strikes women during their most productive years, both professionally and personally.

• Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in U.S. women ages 40-59.

• Men can get breast cancer, too. One percent of breast cancer diagnosis will be in male patients.

— Source: Susan G. Komen for the Cure San Diego

Need information?

• Susan G. Komen for the Cure:

or (877) GO KOMEN.

• Cancer Navigator HelpLine:

or (866) 324-2628

• American Cancer Society:

Want to get involved?

• RIDE4LOVE motorcycle ride, Oct. 22: Register begins at 8 a.m. at at the Handlery Hotel & Resort, 950 Hotel Circle North. Sponsored by The Men For A Cause, United Against Breast Cancer.

• Komen Row for the Cure 2011, Oct. 30:

• San Diego Komen Race for the Cure: Nov. 6 at Balboa Park. Pre-registration is still being accepted or register that day. You can also still volunteer to help or donate.

• Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Nov. 18-20: