Heather Hinton

For the past 22 years, Heather Hinton has been employed at Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital. If you’ve been to our hospital, you may recognize her smiling face greeting you from the front desk.

Unfortunately, Heather’s life changed drastically in the last year. Experiencing left shoulder pain, Heather thought she was simply dealing with a muscle strain. But as the pain became progressively worse, she sought medical advice. After multiple appointments, emergency department visits, and diagnostic tests, Heather received a diagnosis no one ever wants to receive.

Heather had cancer.

Specifically, Heather had multiple myeloma with a metastatic spinal tumor compressing her spinal cord. Treatment involved chemotherapy and a major decompression surgery of her cervical spine. For the six months following surgery, Heather required a neck brace.

Though this would be more than enough for anyone to deal with, Heather faced additional complications when she contracted COVID-19. Already weak from her illness, this posed yet another significant challenge for Heather. “I couldn’t even lift my arms up over my head, and I couldn’t walk at all,” she recalled.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to walk again.”

Heather then turned to Gateway for the intensive rehabilitation she needed to regain her strength and ability to walk. “During the entire time I was at Gateway, everyone was awesome. My therapists were super-duper great! It was their motivation that got me to where I am today,” Heather noted.

That motivation had a significant impact on Heather. While at Gateway, she experienced a lot of emotions, at times feeling hopeless and in denial about ever recovering. But the staff worked to bring her spirits up. “The therapists and staff just kept pushing and pushing me,” she shared. “And it was like a domino effect. Everything just sort of fell into place.”

Though she spent 75 days hospitalized, Heather has regained her independence and functional mobility, allowing her to return home. Heather continues her monthly chemotherapy infusions and daily oral chemotherapy treatment and attends regular appointments with her oncology team at St. Elizabeth.

The next time you’re at Gateway, be sure to say “hi” to Heather!

Heather is even back to work at Gateway, working full-time, five days a week. She drives every day and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.

“I even redecorated my house recently,” she added with a smile.

Heather is a true success story! The next time you’re at Gateway, please take a moment to say “hi” to Heather and congratulate her on her success.