Beating Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

“Think positive and keep a positive attitude,” Lanese says. After receiving her cancer diagnosis and throughout treatment, Lanese continued to think, “I got this, I’m going to get through this.” 

Lanese, 47, went for a routine physical in early 2022. When analyzing her results, she noticed that her lymphocyte levels were out of range, and had also been out of range during her previous physical. Worried that her lymphocytes were higher than normal, Lanese called her primary care doctor to express her concern. Her primary care doctor referred her to New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, which led her to find Dr. Nolyn Nyatanga

After her first appointment with Dr. Nyatanga, Lanese immediately felt in good hands. “She’s amazing. She makes you feel like you’re family,” Lanese says. Dr. Nyatanga tested her for cancer and autoimmune diseases, but the results were negative. 

Then a few months later, Lanese went for a routine check-up and mammogram. After receiving the mammogram and sonogram results, her doctor requested for her to get a biopsy. The results confirmed Lanese’s diagnosis of breast cancer. She didn’t have any symptoms or lumps, so this news was shocking for her.

“When I first found out, I prayed that it didn’t spread. That was the most important thing to me. God, please just don't let it spread,” Lanese says.  

At her first breast screening exam a few years prior, Lanese had a mammogram and an ultrasound that detected she had dense breast tissue and breast calcifications. Breast density refers to the amount of fibrous and glandular tissue in the breasts in comparison to fatty breast tissue, and breast calcifications are calcium deposits that are found in breast tissue. Having dense breasts put Lanese at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. 

Lanese met with Dr. Nyatanga to discuss her diagnosis, the different types and stages of breast cancer, and treatment options. Lanese felt comfort in receiving this information, and is an advocate about the importance of being informed on your cancer type and treatment. Lanese was sent for an MRI to determine the cancer stage and type, and discuss surgery options. Dr. Nyatanga referred Lanese to Surgical Oncologist Dr. Dwight DeRisi, whom Lanese met with the following week. “He has a beautiful personality and is an amazing person,” Lanese says. They discussed breast surgery and plastic surgery options, and he referred her to Plastic Surgeon Dr. Mark Silberman. 

Lanese received her results the same day and discovered that she had Stage 1 Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, a very aggressive type of cancer. The good news was the cancer hadn’t spread. 

Upon receiving her diagnosis, Lanese faced the impending graduations of both her sons. With her oldest son graduating from high school and the youngest from middle school, Lanese was determined not to miss these significant milestones. She scheduled her surgery for after graduation and in June 2022, Lanese underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer from her breasts, with immediate breast reconstructive surgery following the lumpectomy.  

Her treatment plan consisted of adjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy. Throughout this challenging period, Lanese found support from her husband, who accompanied her to treatment appointments, and family and friends, who drove her to doctor appointments. Grateful for her incredible support team, Lanese looked forward to her treatment sessions due to the positive connections she formed with the remarkable individuals she encountered along the way.

Lanese emphasizes the importance of having a strong support system during cancer treatment. “Whether it’s family or friends, having a support system really helped a lot,” she says. When Lanese learned about NYCBS’ Women's Cancer Support Group, she joined right away. It has been an incredible support system. “I met so many amazing women. I love it,” she says. Lanese is grateful for the support from her medical team at NYCBS. “I believe in a good team. I love my team at NYCBS. They’ve made a world of difference. The doctors, especially Dr. Nyatanga, make the experience personalized. All of the doctors and nurses I’ve seen have made me feel like family.” 

In reflecting on her journey through chemotherapy, Lanese shares valuable advice: “Stay positive. After chemo, you have to go home and rest. You can’t push yourself. Go home, settle down, and listen to your body. ” Praying and listening to her favorite Gospel music also helped Lanese stay grounded throughout this challenging time. Complementing her emotional resilience, she made significant dietary adjustments, opting for fresh vegetables, lean poultry, and limiting red meat consumption while steering clear of processed foods.

Following her last chemotherapy treatment in November 2022, Lanese seamlessly transitioned into the next phase of her treatment—daily radiation sessions, Monday through Friday, spanning two months. Her triumphant journey reached a significant milestone with the completion of her last radiation treatment at the end of January 2023.

Lanese’s experience has taught her about the power of staying informed about your health and taking proactive steps when needed. She’s an active mom, and showing up for her sons kept her motivated throughout her journey. She often travels to attend her oldest son’s lacrosse games and her youngest son’s track and field meets. She’s still involved in the women’s support group and is grateful for the wonderful connections she’s made along the way. She remains positive and confident, focusing on moving forward. “Enjoy life. Stay positive,” Lanese says. 


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