When were you diagnosed?
“I was diagnosed in April of 2012 at the age of 36 at IU West. I detected a lump by self-exam and brought it to the attention of my OB/GYN during my annual appointment. A biopsy confirmed ER/HER2+ breast cancer, even with no family history.”
What has been your treatment plan?
“I had a double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, and Herceptin. I am on anti-estrogen for another five years. Dr. (Bryan) Schneider at IU Health Simon Cancer Center is my oncologist. I love that he does research, is in tune with new treatments and fighting for the patient everyday.”
What advice would you give to others who are newly diagnosed?
“A breast cancer diagnosis is scary. I really tried to find hope during my treatment in the scientific innovations and the amazing survivors I met. I trusted my medical staff at IU Health to discuss all my options with me throughout my treatment. My breast navigator, surgeons and oncologist were very passionate and I knew I was in good hands.”
What has been your inspiration, your driving force?
“My son, Jackson, 9 was always my inspiration. He was three when I was diagnosed and doesn’t remember me having cancer, but really loves being an advocate and supporting me. He has no problem telling people to get mammograms and colonoscopies to help them detect cancer early. On the hardest days, I knew I needed to fight for him. I knew he needed his mom back. Cancer really brings urgency to what you do in life. After regaining my strength, I started volunteering as much as I could to give back to others. I’m an advocate and a fighter with my son beside me and we have met so many wonderful people along the way.”
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you’ve used throughout your journey?
“Hope – You are so much stronger than you think. Even though I am a 5-year survivor, seeing the people that were there from the beginning really brings me back to moments in my treatment. It’s like snapshots of then and now. Now I feel empowered and strong, able to help others in their fight. I’m blessed to have great people to support me, and the ability to help people fight cancer as a volunteer and a researcher.”
– T.J. Banes