A Personal Breast Cancer Survivor Story

Breast cancer is something I never thought would touch my life.   It was happening to other people, not me.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I would like to share my story.  My name is Blair Lanning and I am the Outreach and Recruitment Manager at OIC of Oklahoma County.  I coordinate OIC’s Health Literacy program and Community Literacy program and where I have been since 2012.

My story begins last year. I had a new primary care physician.   We decided to start catching up on tests that needed to be done.  The first one was a mammogram.  I hadn’t had a mammogram in many years. I knew I should have one done but I kept putting it off.  Now one in my family had breast cancer. In August 21, 2019 I finally had my mammogram, not a worry in my mind.

Something was suspicious in my mammogram and I had to go back again on August 27.  This time my husband went with me and he sat patiently in the waiting room while I had another mammogram. Then I had a sonogram and three areas in my left breast were found. The radiology doctor came in and did more checking. He told me that these spots looked like cancer. This was a very long day and a surreal moment in my life. I asked if my husband could come back which he did. I think the doctor was surprised and pleased that I wasn’t alone. He didn’t have to give me the bad news by myself.

At that moment, I became a Breast Cancer Survivor and the rollercoaster ride began.  I had multiple doctor visits, many scans, MRI’s, sonograms and a biopsy.  My head was spinning.  Still, I was thinking ‘this isn’t happening to me.”  The breast cancer wasn’t real to me…yet.

Today, October 18th, 2020, is a monumental day for me.  Exactly one year ago I went in to have my chemo port put in.  I woke up having a hemorrhagic stroke.  That means a stroke made my head bleed and was unconscious for 4 weeks and in several hospitals for a total of 2 months.  My oncologist, my cancer doctor, postponed my chemo treatment until I was stronger. Chemotherapy began in February 2020.  Thankfully, my cancer was caught early and my treatment, lumpectomy and radiation have, well, I don’t want to jinx myself by saying the cancer is gone, but it is.   I will remain in immunotherapy treatment for another 10 months.  I will always be a Survivor. 

So, my friends, the moral of this blog post is for you to Get Your Mammogram! Take a moment to look at the American Cancer Society’s recommendations. And yes, men can get breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer is much lower in men than in women. The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 833 in U.S. men compared to 1 in 8 for U.S. women, according to Susan G. Komen.  If you have questions or concerns, ask your medical doctor. 

Guideline for Early Detection of Cancer from the American Cancer Society:

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.

Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

Don’t be me! Talk to your doctor.  GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM! 

Blair Lanning

OIC Manager, Outreach and Recruitment