In November 2019, my family and I were in Philadelphia when I noticed a burning sensation in my left breast. I tried to ignore it. I realized the pain would ease up if I was in a warmer setting rather than being outdoors. I still didn’t take any action on the pain until one evening my wife noticed my nipple was slightly inverted. She convinced me to see a doctor.
The doctor examined my breast then left the room. When she came back, she said she was ordering a mammogram and a biopsy. I didn’t understand why.
I also had a gallbladder attack in December and ended up in the ER. I was told I needed to have gallbladder surgery. But first, the mammogram!
Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be called back for my mammogram, I felt very out of place. Even though my wife, Robyn, was with me, it still felt awkward being there.
I wanted my gallbladder surgery and the biopsy done at the same time. Surgery was set for February 27th. I was glad my gallbladder was going to be gone but was concerned about the results of my biopsy.
We were sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my biopsy results. Robyn reassured me I was not going to walk this path alone. Soon we heard the knock on the door along with the words, “Mr. Landean, I am sorry to say…you have breast cancer.”
My mind raced. My head was spinning. Everything seemed to stand still, yet it was also spinning so fast. My wife assured me, “We will get through this together!” Her words brought my world back to normal. However, we had more hurdles ahead.
We decided not to tell our kids right away. We have four children and felt the timing wasn’t right. Our daughter had a huge event coming up at Disney, and we didn’t want to spoil it for her. We decided we would enjoy Disney, then have our much-needed talk with the kids.
I feel the hardest thing about cancer is waiting. I didn’t understand what “fighting cancer” meant. Robyn explained what it meant to her: to stay positive, surround myself with others for encouragement, reach out to others for help, and keep myself mentally strong.
I had my mastectomy on March 23rd. I was conflicted about telling others. I found some cancer support groups on Facebook and found something I did not expect: Support, love, acceptance, help, encouragement, brotherhood, family, inspiration. My advice…if you are dealing with something, reach out to others.
Telling family and friends I had cancer was interesting. Some disappeared, others stepped up with love and support. This is where you find your “true friends”. I sat down with each of our kids and told them. They all listened and embraced me with love and encouragement.
Due to Covid, Robyn was not allowed to be in the hospital for my mastectomy. The surgery went well, however I did have some internal bleeding through the night and was rushed back into emergency surgery. By God’s grace, I survived.
On one of my last visits with the oncologist I got to hear the words, “Mr. Landean, you are cancer free!”