Local breast cancer survivor shares her story

September 30, 2016 chris
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By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

Lana Calvert went to a routine mammogram last year and received harrowing news. She had a small lump in her breast. Calvert was sent for an ultrasound and then a biopsy before she was officially diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I never thought I would have breast cancer,” said Calvert. “It was shocking to find out, just because it wasn’t ever something I considered.”

Calvert was lucky. The doctors believe the cancer was caught early because the tumor was only a centimeter in size. Calvert had been forced to miss her yearly mammogram for the previous two years due to pregnancy and breast-feeding her daughter.

“ I know, in October you see a lot about mammogram reminders, but I’m a beleiver now that it really is important,” said Calvert. “The technology is there for a reason and it’s to save your life if something is going on.”

Calvert said that her family didn’t have a history of breast cancer, so it is important for everybody to check.

The doctors jumped into treatment. It was recommended she receive a double mastectomy. The chance of the cancer returning rises every year, and because Calvert was young, it was a concern.

The surgery was tough. Recovery was difficult. Calvert said that one of the hardest parts was “waking up and realizing that part of your body isn’t there any more.” For two weeks after the surgery, she couldn’t really move her arms.

After the surgery recovery, doctors began her on chemotherapy. She faced 16 rounds of chemo. The first four treatments were of  “the red devil,” a really hard chemo, and 12 additional rounds of a less severe chemo.

“The first four were the hardest,”said Calvert.

After the third round of chemo, Calvert lost her hair. During the 12 rounds, she lost her fingernails, a rarer symptom of chemotherapy.

“That was pretty tough,” said Calvert. “You don’t realize how many things you can do with your fingernails.”

During chemotherapy, Calvert attempted to keep her schedule as normal as possible. She went to work as much as she could. She credits her family and church with helping her get by at home.

Calvert has three daughters, ages 13, 10 and 2.

“They were a big help at home,” said Calvert. “They kind of stepped up and did  chores.”

She said that she thinks it was harder on her family.

“I had a peace about it from the beginning,” said Calvert. “I knew it was going to be okay.”

A group of “laundry angels” from church picked up the family’s laundry and cleaned it before delivering it back at the house, often with extra treats. Meals were delivered and a maid came to clean once a month. She said that she couldn’t imagine going through it without the supportive community.

For Calvert, everything is returning to normal. She finished chemo in May and had reconstructive surgery on her breasts in July. Her pet scan results were clear and her energy is coming back.

“I’m anxious for my hair to come back, so I don’t look like a cancer patient anymore, and my eyebrows and eyelashes, because I feel great,” said Calvert.