Tana Crane Shares Her Breast Cancer Survivor Story

Posted on Nov 7th 2014 by Karen Thompson

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In December 2006, Tana Crane, developer, service business infomatics, felt a lump and some pain in her right breast. She wasn’t too concerned; like many women, she’d heard that breast cancer didn’t usually have painful symptoms, and besides, she was only 32 years old - too young to be thinking it could be something serious. She already had her annual exam scheduled with her doctor for the next month, so she would ask about it then. Her doctor also had no cause for alarm, but since there was some family history of breast cancer (her half-sister on her dad’s side of the family), Crane thought she should have a mammogram anyway, just to be on the safe side. That’s when things started to get scary. After her mammogram was over, the medical team asked her to stay in the room as they wanted to do an immediate biopsy. Her mother wasn’t allowed to come back in the room, but suddenly a “cancer support nurse” was at her side, holding her hand. No one had even mentioned cancer. No one had said ANYTHING. Two days later, she received a phone call from the surgeon. Crane recalled that moment with anguished clarity and she choked up as she described it.

Tana Crane

 “I was sitting at the table with my mother, and I was on the phone with the doctor,” she said. “I wrote down two words on a pad of paper: ‘cancer’ and ‘aggressive’. My mom just crumpled when she saw what I had written.” From that moment, Crane says she went into business mode. She arranged for time off from work, and made all the necessary appointments for further testing. She went to the surgeon’s office with an entourage of family and friends for support to get more information on her cancer and was disappointed with the way she was treated. “He didn’t even look at me,” she said. “He looked at my charts and said, I’d need a mastectomy of both breasts. He hadn’t even told me what stage I was in or anything. When I asked him, he said ‘Stage II’ as nonchalantly as he could be. I had no idea what that even meant. It got even worse the more we talked and he said, “Oh, maybe you’re Stage III.” I was devastated by the diagnosis and by his attitude. We got up and immediately left his office.” She transferred her care to Mayo Clinic and she began to get more details on her cancer diagnosis. A PET scan showed dark spots around her neck and she was advised to prepare for a Stage IV classification. “I thought, if I’m stage IV, that’s it,” she recalled. “I’m quitting my job, cashing in my 401K and living in Europe until I die.” But the doctor had other plans for her. She wanted to do one more test that would hopefully show a more favorable light on the spread of the cancer. “She called me at 8:00 p.m. and said the one word I wanted to hear: ‘clear’,” said Crane. I was not at Stage IV – I was at Stage IIIC. I sobbed for hours with relief, but I knew it was time to fight.” And fight she did. On Feb. 23, 2007, Crane underwent a double mastectomy and had 31 lymph nodes removed from her right breast (25 of which were already cancerous) as well as a 4 ½ centimeter tumor. She also qualified for a clinical drug trial for a new oral chemotherapy pill, which she believes saved her life. She underwent 26 rounds of traditional chemotherapy lasting 14 months and six weeks of radiation. All the drugs caused her to lose feeling in her fingertips and temporarily lost the toenails on her pinky toes. During all the grueling treatment, Crane found the support she needed from family and friends and even found time for a little fun – like having a party with her friends to shave her hair once it began falling out. Aside from possibly losing her life, Crane also had to face losing her breasts. As a single 32-year-old, that can be a devastating reality. She said she had a “panic attack” at the thought of looking at herself for the first time after surgery, but like everything else, she dealt with it and moved on. Crane had breast reconstruction surgery 16 months after her mastectomy, and she now looks and feels great. She has been cancer free for seven years and is even allowed to go back to an annual screening schedule after having to go every six months for the last six years. She’s married and enjoys an active life full of friends, family and travel. “Somedays are not someday anymore,” said Crane. “Somedays are now. I don’t like to wait for the perfect time to do things. I make time now.”  

Filed under: Healthy Living  

Karen Thompson

Karen Thompson is a Communications Consultant for Florida Blue. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her two rescued pit bulls and hanging out with her friends and family. You can follow her on Twitter at @ktmarieFL.

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