Recently, Teresa Lane, a cancer survivor, won a brand new Mini Cooper Coupe from City of Hope. Read her beautiful story of new beginnings:
My name is Teresa Lane and I am a cancer survivor… actually, the word “survivor” best describes my life story (so I’ve been told) and I am extremely blessed and very grateful to have so many wonderful friends and family for support… I couldn’t imagine my life without all of the love and genuine concerns for my happiness and good health.
In February of 2011, my parents were extremely lucky to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary before my mother, Rosemary had colon cancer surgery… several days after my father, Richard was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer… my father died on March 9, 2011.
My mother suffers with dementia which increased significantly after her most recent surgery. With my father’s passing, Rosemary could not remain alone to care for herself… it was in keeping with my father’s wishes to place her in the Masonic Home where she lives to this day.
It was a very difficult year for my children and I, we simply couldn’t imagine things being much worse… however, I went for my annual check-up in early 2012 and the GY/OB expressed some concerns after a mammogram revealed the “highly suspicious area” on my left breast… I was completely stunned.
My mother, Rosemary had a mastectomy due to breast cancer also… so, my doctor urged me to have a biopsy and further suggested that I meet with a breast surgeon to discuss all of the given options.
It was February 28, 2012 when I received my first lumpectomy and the tissue came back cancerous… Ductal Carcinoma InSitu (DCIS). Luckily, it was found in the early stage which made my cancer more treatable… however, there were several things to consider:
1) The margins were not clear of the cancer, so I had to go back for more surgery soon again...
2) Should I have a BRCA gene test to see if I have the breast cancer gene..?
3) Do I have a mastectomy or not..? And if so, one or both… should I have reconstruction surgery?
So many decisions to make with no definitive answers… I decided the BRCA exam might offer some additional insights for my daughter and granddaughter’s concerns. Also, I had several meetings with a radiologist oncologist, a cosmetic surgeon and my oncologist to get more information about possible treatments with a much greater effort to be proactive.
After months of waiting for BRCA test results, it was finally revealed that I am unlikely to be a “breast cancer gene” carrier... yet knowing these lab results may not be 100% accurate, I still had very difficult choices with deciding how to proceed.
I opted for the less invasive procedure, starting with another lumpectomy on May 8th to clear the margins. Two weeks after healing from my second surgery, I endured a series of thirty-three treatments with radiation as a precautionary measure. My doctor suggested that I also take additional medications thereafter for five years…
I don’t believe that I was truly prepared for my first visit to the radiologist… because he applied a genuine ink tattoo during this procedure to ensure the radiation went into the correct areas (but it was nothing pretty, just little dots…)
I went for five days a week, a total of six weeks… the radiation treatments lasted about ten minutes, so I took those unusual moments to tell God that I was grateful for everything in my life… I told myself repeatedly, “It could be a lot worse, God has blessed me with the early discovery of my cancer...” and too, I was blessed because I didn’t get abrasions & sores with my radiation therapy, however… oh boy, I was so exhausted and drained of energy that I could have easily fallen asleep while driving home from work every day…
Regardless, I was determined to never let cancer stop me from living… so, I continued to work during several weeks of radiation therapy.
On my last day of radiation treatments, I was awarded a certificate with lots of congratulations from this wonderful radiology staff, simply for having completed our therapy with humor, perseverance and strength.
Also, I was very fortunate to have the support of my employer and the proprietor of Hair U Wear, Michael Napolitano who told me, “Do whatever is needed to take care of you...” Then he provided ample time for my doctors’ appointments, my treatments and easier schedules of air travel. When I joined Hair U Wear nearly fifteen years ago, it very much seemed like a family that I wanted to be part of… and I am so grateful I did!
After seeing light at the end of the tunnel, everything went dark again in June of 2013… my mother and I were in a near-fatal car accident. We both were taken to an emergency room in Beech Grove, Indiana. Rosemary had broken her wrist and I was suffering with severely bruised ribs (so I had thought) and our vehicle was totaled beyond repair… a paramedic said that we were both lucky to be alive...
After I returned home to Florida, I visited my oncologist with results from a CAT scan… we both were extremely shocked to discover that I had fractured my third, fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs. Also, there was fluid in my left lung and they noticed an ill-defined lesion on the left lobe of my thyroid gland.
Of course, this required another biopsy… the pathology report came back as inconclusive, so they had to send my tissue samples out for further testing once more...
So here again, I hoped to exhale a sigh of relief… but it seemed like I was inhaling another daunting challenge. The 2nd test results came back indicating a mere 4% chance of my having thyroid cancer… ((sigh!)) I was greatly relieved and determined to live cancer free… I refuse to accept defeat by anything.
So, it was three months ago that I visited the oncologist with a pain on the left side of my neck… it was very difficult for me to swallow. Then I met an endocrinologist plus an ear, nose and throat surgeon who explained all of my best options (and here we go once again…)
It was incredibly stressful to have yet another monumental, life-altering decision looming over my head like a zeppelin in free fall…
1) Should I have merely one half of my thyroid removed..?
2) Should I have everything removed to avoid the risk of possibly having more surgery again later?
Since the biopsy indicated the left side was the only affected area, I felt confident with our decision to extract only half of my glands… so, I had another cancer surgery on April 21st of 2014.
The procedure seemed like a success and my surgeon thought the tissue samples were clear of any disease… however, the pathology report showed it to be “Stage II” thyroid cancer… so once again, I went under the knife on May 5th to remove the remaining bits & fragments of my thyroid... also, I required additional treatments to ensure my cancer would not spread to the lymph nodes or elsewhere.
I was given a low-iodine diet for two weeks to prepare for the radioactive treatment which followed... and on May 18th, I ingested a green radioactive pill that required me to be isolated and in complete seclusion for seven days.
On May 25th, I had another CAT scan to determine whether I was free of the cancer but those results were inconclusive… so, they gave me yet another CAT on July 13th… just days before I departed for Cosmoprof Las Vegas.
I was traveling at about 30,000 feet when the doctor’s office called to give the news… someone left a brief message asking for a return call and nothing was mentioned of my 3rd CAT scan as I thought, “Dear, God… please let everything be okay.”
Just before closing the doors, I got my results (finally!) from a nurse who gave mention to the only thing discovered by my CAT scan… she promised it is NOT cancer anymore but there might possibly be a gall stone… or as I like to call it, “a Godsend.”
The very next day, I and several of our associates with Hair U Wear attended the City of Hope banquet to honor Harlan Kirschner. There was a raffle for a brand new Mini Cooper Coupe and several of us decided to purchase a few tickets. I never truly had it in my mind to win the car, I was simply feeling grateful for all of the wonderful news I had received from the previous day… the joy of being cancer free once again! I really just wanted to give something back by making a small donation to a truly amazing cause… I never would have imagined that I might win a beautiful new car! WoW!!!
When they called my name, I just couldn’t believe it… seems like “the universe” was saying this day is a brand new day, it’s your new beginning… and with a NEW car! J
I feel like God has been preparing me for better things to start… thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!