Lump to Laughter

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Board of Directors

Connie HillConnie Hill is a Wilmington, NC working mother of 2 and wife who overcame breast cancer when she was 34 years old. She is the Cofounder and Executive Director of Lump to Laughter and the author of “From Lump to Laughter-The Story of Grace.” Originally from Durham, NC she made the coast her home after graduating at UNCW with a BS in Marine Biology and a minor in Education. She has 2 years of teaching experience, 13 years of sales and marketing experience along with 10 years as an executive administrative assistant. Her strength in marketing and networking is an asset to the Lump to Laughter ministry. She has a passion to serve, a love of people as well as a strong determination to help others and it shows in everything she does.


Tabetha SmithTabetha L. Smith is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) at Insight Family Health and graduated from UNCChapel Hill in 1997. She has a Master of Science degree in Nursing and is licensed to practice medicine in the State of NC as a FNP. She is certified by the American Nurse Credentialing Center. Women’s health has always been of special interest to Ms. Smith, but she has experience in family practice, pediatrics, health education and chronic disease management. Over the most recent years of her practice, she has focused on wellness and prevention, nutrition and hormone balance. She has received specialized continuing education in the areas in which she specializes. She also has a degree in health education and believes educating people about their own health and how to improve their health is one of the best ways she can help her patients. Tabetha became a board member in 2009 when her friend and cofounder of Lump to Laughter, Renee Ballard, passed away from breast cancer. Tabetha felt compelled to serve with the ministry her dear friend was so involved in creating.




Nikki SimpsonNikki Simpson is a single mother who overcame breast cancer at the age of 32. Nikki lives in Wilmington, NC and is engaged to be married. After her journey she began volunteering with Lump to Laughter and wanted to give back by helping the ministry even more. She became a Board Member in 2007. Her background in nutrition and health as well as her business savviness have been invaluable to the board. She has volunteered countless hours at fundraisers and assisting the ministry. Her heart of service and love of life and people are a true blessing to the ministry. Nikki’s biological mother passed away from breast cancer in 2014 fueling her passion to continue to help.





Deb HaysDeb Hays is a Realtor with Intracoastal Realty in Wilmington, NC. As a committed civic leader she has served as Chair and Commissioner of the Wilmington Housing Authority and Chair of the Housing Economic Opportunities. As a member of the Board of Commissioners, she has actively participated in overseeing the Authority through drastic changes, not only in personnel but also in the makeup of the board itself. She has remained committed to the Authority’s purpose and continuing the programs and services so desperately needed in the community. She has actively participated in city and county government through various task forces, committees and commissions including Citizens Advisory Planning Commissions, Economic Development and Quality of Life issues. She is also currently serving on the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors and has completed their year long Leadership Wilmington Program. Her greatest accomplishment is her daughter, Morgan, who is an honor graduate of NC State Univ. School of Veterinary Medicine. Deb became involved with Lump to Laughter from the beginning and joined the board in 2013. Her support of the ministry has been a Godsend to us.




Bonnie MelvilleBonnie Melville is originally from Pittson, PA and settled in Wilmington, NC in the early 90’s. She has been a mortgage lender with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage since 1998. (NMLSR# 450593). She has a daughter, Kayla. Bonnie became involved with helping Lump to Laughter because of a strong family history of breast cancer and believing in the mission of the ministry. She joined the board in 2013. We are excited to have this hard-working lady on our board. Bonnie has such a spirit of caring and giving which is a perfect fit for the ministry. She hit the ground running her first year by co-chairing the 2013 Lump to Laughter Golf Tournament helping us raise $12,000 that year.






Dayma Fuentes EdwardsDayma Fuentes Edwards was born in Puerto Rico, raised in New Jersey, but since 1996 has called Wilmington, NC her home. Dayma currently works for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage as a Customer Service Representative and is the owner of Dia Mia Design, a local event and wedding planning company she started in 2002. She is married and has a daughter, Amanda. Dayma became involved with Lump to Laughter as a volunteer. Her organization and planning skills were a true benefit to our fundraisers. We were delighted when she decided to join our Board and bring her creativity and event planning experience to our ministry. Thank you Dayma for sharing your gift with us.




Jane DoddJane Dodd is a life-long native of the area born in neighboring Burgaw. A graduate of Meredith College and a residential Realtor for over 25 years with Intracoastal Realty, her greatest joys in life are her two sons Haiden and Tyson. Being raised in a close family of faith and caring, her focus in life has always been to share her many blessings with others. Jane is excited to continue her support with Lump to Laughter by serving on the board of directors. It is a ministry that is very dear and close to her heart as she was blessed to be able to walk with the co-founder and her dearest friend, Connie, thru her journey. She looks forward to helping Lump to Laughter continue its amazing success in raising funds for breast cancer awareness and assistance.




Angela IveyAngela Ivey lives in Benson, NC and is married to Ashley Ivey. Together they have two amazing children, Bryce and Carmyn and own Ivey’s Woodworking. She is an Accountant and Partner at A.L. Wood & Associates. She holds a Bachelor in Accounting and Business Administration from Mount Olive College and is an Enrolled Agent with the IRS, member of the NC Society of Accountants, National Society of Tax Professional, Benson Kiwanis Club, and is a Notary Public. Angela began volunteering with Lump to Laughter in 2013 during annual fundraisers to support a friend and quickly discovered that her friends passion of service and supporting women diagnosed with breast cancer had become her own. She is invaluable to our organization and brings a wealth of financial talent to us. Angela is one of the hardest working people in our organization. There is nothing she cannot do.

Board Member not pictured is Joan DeSantis:  Manager at Hilton/Homewood Suites, Wife and Mother to 2 daughters.  Her extensive knowledge in Events and Meetings has been an asset to our organization.  Full Bio to come.

Alan PerryAlan Perry is the Founder and Owner of Perry’s Emporium in Wilmington, NC. Alan has been in the jewelry business for over 35 years. Alan’s passion for jewelry began at the age of 16, when his brother, Ernie, helped him land a job at “The Jewel Box” in his hometown of Charlotte. He started by simply polishing, cleaning and engraving. After over 10 years of co-ownership with his brothers in Charlotte, Alan moved to the coast to open his own “Perry’s Emporium” what is now...the largest jewelry store in Southeaster North Carolina and beyond! “I’m always striving to be #1,” says Alan. Alan became involved with Lump to Laughter after losing his sister, Reba, to breast cancer in 2011. He soon partnered with us in 2013. His support allows us to operate and support women throughout the Southeastern NC area and beyond. Thank you Alan for your generosity and all that you do for our ministry.


Our Founders

Her two children, both boys, were 3 and 1 at the time of diagnoses. She is married to her "rock" and best friend, Flint. She has a brother, who is a policeman and lives in another state. Originally from Durham, NC she made the coast her home after graduating at UNCW with a BS in Marine Biology and a minor in Education. After 2 years of teaching high school she started her career in real estate in 1996 with much success and enjoyment. In 2003, overcoming cancer became another "full-time job" for her. Although Connie survived childhood abuse by her mother and step-father, her victorious spirit did not prepare her for the fight of breast cancer. Her tough exterior was peeled away and as she was left exposed as she discovered her purpose in this world and slowly remade herself with a firm foundation that started with Christ. Her transforming, emotional and often-times hilarious journey through breast cancer can be found in the story of Grace.

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As a single mother, she has raised three children who were 26, 22 and 19 at the time of her diagnosis. They are definitely the sum total of her best efforts. She was employed at New Hanover Regional Medical Center as a Prescription Assistance Advocate. She was also a certified Chaplain. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age of 48. She had a tram flap surgery and unilateral mastectomy. The cancer she was diagnosed with was 2.5 cm in size. The cancer was contained with no evidence in her nodes, margins, or borders. Her pathway of treatment consisted of nutrition, a more natural approach of letting the body heal itself believing that you are what you eat.  In the fall of 2007, Renee was diagnosed with a recurrence of her breast cancer.  And on Good Friday, 2009, she went to be with God in heaven. She always said she would be healed and she was, IN HEAVEN.  Renee fought until the end to stay on this earth to make a difference and even in her final week was praying for others and calling everyone to be saved so that she could leave knowing that they would one day join her in heaven. Her story in a devotional book form will be released at a later date and the title will be appropriately-"Healed in Heaven-The Devotions of Faith" 


Patty was born in Fort Bragg, NC and moved to Wilmington as a child attending public school through high school. She attended Atlantic Christian College and got an associates degree in graphic design before moving to Charlotte to pursue a career in advertising and design. Patty eventually moved back to Wilmington where her prince charming (Phil!) found her, wooed her and married her in 2001.


Phil was born in Winston Salem and moved to Wilmington as a teenager. He worked in the chemical industry for 32 years in Wilmington prior to leaving that business to pursue other opportunities. He is now a real estate agent with Intracoastal Realty. Phil's hobbies include making Patty happy and public speaking.


Patty's involvement in Lump to Laughter began with a phone call from Renee Ballard asking her to meet with Renee and Connie to discuss the need for a logo for their project called "Lump to Laughter". After discussion and prayer, Patty went to the computer and the logo for Lump to Laughter flowed from her into the computer. Patty then drew the character Grace followed by her friends Hope and Faith.

When Patty told her husband Phil about the excitement of the project he became excited about the possibilities of where the project could go and the people who could be helped by the sharing of Renee and Connie's stories of conquering breast cancer.

It didn't take Patty and Phil long to know they wanted to be a part of this effort to spread the witness of these to conquerors.

Our Mission

Lump to Laughter is dedicated to providing support for those diagnosed with breast cancer.  No woman should ever have to choose whether to pay her mortgage or pay for costs associated with treatment of breast cancer.  No woman should ever hear "You have cancer", without emotional support.  We aim to empower the hearts of women who are newly diagnosed with words of encouragement and life because words have power ~ life or death is in the tongue.  We equip women in providing for their basic needs through hope so they may overcome breast cancer, not just survive it. We provide awareness of the spiritual and emotional journey through breast cancer and comfort the spirit of those newly diagnosed. We share stories of Hope, Faith and Grace that sing victory not death.  


We thank you for your interest in Lump to Laughter and for the time you have given to review the details about our mission. We are grateful for your support. We would not be able to provide this ministry without your contributions and sacrifice. It is through your generous donations we are able to maintain our virtual website, tell our personal stories, offer much needed emotional and spiritual support and provide a one-stop faith filled resource center to thousands of women nationwide. We look forward to sharing this ministry with you.

Our History

As the reason became clearer they knew they had to do what no one else was doing. Provide emotional and spiritual support to women diagnosed with breast cancer.

To do this they would pour out their heart and souls and share their emotional stories about their own journey through breast cancer. Exposing the emotions of a woman undergoing breast cancer assisted women with their own diagnosis and other women began sharing their inspirational stories. A website and Share Your Story forum was establish, support groups, hope packages were created to send inspirational and faith-centered items for those newly diagnosed and finally the creation of the Angel Fund, to provide financial relief to those in active treatment who had a need. With each program added over the years, one common theme is present; Sharing Hope and God’s love to those diagnosed.

As the hearts of these two friends turned fear into faith their courage began to speak for itself. There is something fierce in the heart of a woman when all she loves is threatened. As cancer tried daily to terrorize them into giving up; strength arose as from the ashes and they battled together. The strength passing between them birthed Lump to Laughter. (About L2L’s name-Renee would continually say, “We need to help these women get from the lump to the laughter so they don’t give up”)

Our Branding: God led Renee and Connie to Patty Brady, a graphic designer who, after helping them design a logo for Lump to Laughter, doodled a female character beside the logo on the same page. For some reason she just thought it was cute and went along with the logo. It took only seconds for Renee and Connie to realize they and their stories would be represented by illustrated characters. And this first one would be named Grace. Over the next few weeks, Patty designed illustrated characters named, Hope and Faith and a community of Other characters who would be part of their journey on the website.

Grace will empower you to hold on to your Faith, and Hope will rise up to meet you. You are not alone; your world may feel out of control. You have more options than you know and never forget you are a victorious over comer. You will live and not die. From the diagnosis to the tattoo you will find someone, not only holding your hand, but also leading the way, Grace, Hope and Faith will be your guides and your support. They desire each woman to look upward, get in touch with the God that created them, find their point of purpose and listen for the beat of God's heart. They believe you just may find yourself in one of the characters. Grace, Hope & Faith will get you through this.

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