Liz Hiles

Liz Hiles

Engagement Specialist / Cincinnati, Ohio /

Survivor

Cancer Type: Bladder Cancer & Urostomate

Stage of Cancer: III

After years of struggling with the symptoms of her cancer, she finally received her diagnosis. While figuring out how to navigate treatment, Liz immediately dove headfirst into the cancer and ostomy communities.

 

Liz has always had advocacy and public education running through her veins. She attended the Hughes Center High School, the second oldest high school in Cincinnati Public School District, in her hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio. In the extracurriculars she participated in, Liz was often the only caucasian student. Liz was exposed to diversity, disparity, and equality issues at a young age and always made efforts to learn more to support her peers in improving social circumstances everywhere. 

 

Liz amplified her voice by studying sociology, women’s studies, and cross-cultural competencies at Ohio University. Liz also was an integral part of the Ohio University Department of Residence Life as a Resident Assistant and served in many other roles within the department, including the Staff Development team. Liz helped choose the workshops offered to the department, and she was also a regular workshop presenter. She also was a founding member of the campus LGBT Ally Group.

 

Professionally, Liz has worked alongside both non-profit organizations and the educational systems in her hometown. She worked in the alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and violence prevention field for many years, giving back to a program she participated in during her high school years. Liz also assisted in developing her high school’s alumni foundation’s presence within the school. She was briefly a paraprofessional within the building, where she could advocate for the students to receive the social and educational services they needed.

 

Most recently, she spent the last year freelancing for several health-related websites and a small-town newspaper in an indigenous reservation area in South Dakota before joining the GRYT Health team in August 2021. Before that, she spent eight years working for a pediatric gastroenterology office with an exceptional team that specializes in intestinal failure. There she assisted her team in advocating for patients with rare diseases and ostomies. 

 

Liz comes to us with a wealth of experience engaging with diverse populations, encouraging community involvement, and bringing words to life on paper or a screen. Things she has done naturally since her youth, and she's utilized those skills in every position in her professional life.

 

Liz will be putting all of her skills to use as our Engagement Specialist. You will see Liz at many GRYT Health events. She will be engaging with community members, other organizations, and the oncology industry on social media to magnify our collective voices on individual and group levels, aiming to improve the quality of life for patients, survivors, and caregivers along the way. 

 

Liz has always had a passion for advocacy and speaking out for various causes. When she was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2016, it was no surprise that she publicly shared her news and began a social media campaign for awareness and an online fundraiser for cancer research. 

 

After two years of pleading for help from the medical community, Liz was diagnosed with Stage III-b bladder cancer in August 2016. She subsequently had a radical cystectomy with radical hysterectomy and stoma placement. Her bladder, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, pelvic lymph nodes, and part of her cervix were all removed. A piece of intestines was used to reroute the plumbing to a medically made hole in her abdomen, called a stoma. She now wears a medical appliance, referred to as an ostomy, to collect her urine. 

 

Following her surgery, Liz had MVAC chemotherapy and has had to deal with other health issues due to her treatments. She has been adamant about including patients, survivors, and caregivers at the table when deciding treatment plans and working on developing clinical trials. Liz is also an avid proponent of considering the quality of life measures when deciding on treatments. 

 

Liz’s favorite memory from treatment is getting her head shaved. Her cousin happened to be her hairstylist and was supportive. The cousin opened her salon when she was typically closed and allowed Liz to invite friends and family to join them at the salon for the occasion. The cousin gave Liz a mohawk, spiked it with a product, and then Liz’s other friends got to shave the rest of her hair off. They took pictures, ordered food, hung out, and had a relaxing, fun time. 

 

Liz lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and receives support from extended family, friends, and former and current coworkers. While she does not currently have any pets, she has always been around animals and plans on having a few when she moves to a warmer climate and purchases her own home. 

 

Liz is an avid reader and writer. Since fourth grade, she has had penpals worldwide and is still in touch with many via social media. Liz also enjoys hiking, swimming, walking, indoor or outdoor gardening, and anything creative or crafty. She is well known for bringing bling and sparkle to the lives of all around her.