When Bethany and Kevin Hart became pregnant in 2016, they were ecstatic. After careful consideration, they decided the time was right to expand their family and were expecting their first child. What they didn’t realize was soon their world would be turned inside out as they fought to save Bethany and their baby, a journey that ultimately led them to starting Hallie Strong, a foundation to support cancer patients nationwide.
Following a routine prenatal exam, Bethan received a call that the results of her pap smear were abnormal, but was assured it wasn’t concerning. “They told me, ‘You’re pregnant, and pregnancy does crazy things to your body,’” Bethany says. “We weren’t worried.”
At 16 weeks pregnant, Bethany was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer, a diagnosis that likely would have gone undiscovered had it not been for her pregnancy. Doctors told Bethany that she would not survive her pregnancy without an emergency cesarean section and immediate cancer treatments. At 19 weeks, the Hart’s baby was delivered, but sadly, was too premature to survive. “I live every day knowing that she saved my life,” Bethany says. “That’s why it became so clear to me that I wanted to do something to honor her legacy.”
Immediately after losing their baby, a daughter named Hallie, Bethany began the fight for her life, which consisted of a radical hysterectomy, five rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation simultaneously. Though consumed by survival, two things kept her motivated: the desire to make Hallie’s brief life mean something and her family’s unending humor. It was her family’s teasing about her mismatched socks during treatments that later became the inspiration for their foundation, Hallie Strong, through which cancer patients can receive socks.
Practically, socks provide warmth in a chilly hospital, Bethany explains. But personally, they provide a greater emotional impact. “When you’re in the hospital, socks are often your only piece of personal clothing — they are something you can control in a situation where you’ve lost all control,” she says. When the story of her mismatched socks spread to friends and family, she often received them as gifts and said she felt the support and love of those people cheering her on.
Since 2018, Hallie Strong has sent more than 2,000 socks, free of charge, to cancer patients around the country. “Anyone can request socks, for themselves or a loved one,” Bethany says.
Hallie’s 5th birthday (her due date) is March 31, and annually Bethany and Kevin celebrate Hallie’s Day of Hope and ask others to perform random acts of kindness to honor Hallie. “It is the hardest day for us,” Bethany says. “In creating this movement, it makes the day about hope.” Bethany follows the #HalliesDayofHope hashtag and reads every message sent.
In 2017, Bethany was declared cancer free, and today she and Kevin live in Noblesville with their two young boys.
If you’d like to support Hallie Strong, consider making a donation, requesting socks, hosting a sock drive, or celebrate #HalliesDayofHope on March 31. Learn more about Hallie Strong at halliestrong.org.