October is breast cancer awareness month and we are featuring our amazing clients that are breast cancer survivors. Today’s story is about Mandy Hansen. I have been working with Mandy and her daughter, Bailey as part of my Elite Senior Program and had the pleasure of talking to Mandy this past week about her story. Mandy was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative breast cancer almost 3 years ago and is remarkably 2 years past her last treatment. The conversation with Mandy was very emotional and it was noticeable how fresh this experience is for her. She was very open and vulnerable about her story and you could feel her emotions as she described all that she has been through. Triple negative cancer is a very aggressive type of cancer. Triple negative means that the cancer has not been feed by hormones (progesterone and estrogen) or the Her-2 protein like the majority of breast cancers. Because of this, they are not sure what causes the cancer and therefore it is much more complicated to treat.
With triple negative cancer being the most aggressive cancer, doctors throw every treatment they have at it in order to make sure they kill it and it doesn’t return. Mandy started her journey with a double mastectomy and then progressed to chemotherapy treatments. She described her treatments and how impactful they were on her daily life as a wife and mom of 3 beautiful girls. She underwent a very aggressive chemotherapy known as the “red devil” for the first 4 treatments and then had 12 more treatments of the most common chemotherapy to follow. I asked Mandy how she felt during this time and she described it as “combining your 1st trimester of pregnancy, the flu and a hangover together all at once.” Bailey, Mandy’s oldest daughter, described how her life changed as a result of her mom being sick at home. “We couldn’t really go anywhere or do anything. I watched my little sister as much as possible since my mom couldn’t.” Mandy truly had to put her life in the hands of her doctors and trust that they would pull her through this. “I still have sadness and anxiety over it,” Mandy stated while telling her story. “It made me realize that none of us are immune from this and it can happen to anyone.”
So how is Mandy and her beautiful family doing now that it has been 2 years since her last treatment? I am happy to say they are doing well and their home is full of everything you would expect raising 3 vivacious girls. “I am still adjusting”, Mandy said. “I see life differently and I make sure we take more time for each other and slow down. Every day is precious and I feel the need to make more memories.” What great advice for all of us. Mandy is being monitored with regular blood draws and is two years cancer free. What an incredible story of survival, perseverance and strength (even if Mandy doesn’t feel that way.) She is a true survivor.
Mandy is very passionate about finding a cure for cancer. Aside from her own story, her beloved father fought long and hard with this debilitating disease and when he passed away it was instrumental in Mandy understanding her own mortality. She realized how fragile life is and that none of us is exempt from tough things happening in our lives. Wanting to make a stand for her dad’s fight with cancer, she became involved with the charity organization, Valley Girls and Guys that offers resources for anyone that is going through any type of cancer. Because of her passion for this charity, Mandy was strict about getting regular mammograms for herself and it saved her life. Because of a mammogram, they found her cancer early and it was pivotal in her survival. “After my experience with my father’s fight with cancer, when they found the tumor in my right breast I thought, why not me?” The truth is that none of us is safe from cancer. It can truly happen to anyone. What I have learned in talking to all 3 of my clients is that you have to be an advocate for yourself and your health. Take the time to get screened, have your physicals and take care of yourself. Cancer impacts everyone and catching it early is the best chance for survival. So go make that appointment, go get that physical, and take care of you. Listen to your body and don’t put things off. You and your loved ones deserve that.
Thank you Mandy and Bailey for talking to me this week about your story. Y’all are a true inspiration. Thanks for reading, everyone.