Back when we created our “Stories” section of the website, we weren’t sure how we would get warriors to tell their story. We ended up writing a couple stories through interviews, but eventually Trish Lannon jumped on board and wrote her story for Get Your Rear in Gear. It ignited others to follow in writing their stories.
When I heard Trish was going to be down on her favorite team’s field on national television in pink, I asked her to share her journey and what it felt like to be on that field. There is a common thread between breast and colon cancer linked as the soft tissue cancers. It’s hard enough to get one of these cancers, but imagine what it feels like to have both.
By Trish Lannon
Dx Stage 3C Colon Cancer in March 2007/Dx DCIS Stage 0 Grade 3 Breast Cancer in April 2009
Pink. I am not a big fan of pink. I never had a pink room or a pink phone – and when I had my daughters, I never decorated their rooms in pink or dressed them head to toe in pink. I would often find myself quite annoyed that the world was covered in pink – especially during the month of October. My yogurt, my daughter’s tennis racket, even the fire starter sticks we use in our fireplace were covered in pink or pink ribbons. What about all the other cancers? What about colon cancer?! Where is all the blue? After being diagnosed with Stage 3C colon cancer when I was 39 years old, I wanted the world to be covered in blue – I wanted to share my story with anyone who would listen so they and their families would never have to go through what I went through. What my family went through. Two years after my colon cancer diagnosis, I would find myself surrounded by the color pink.
On April 14th, 2009, I got the call I was not expecting at all. A biopsy that had to be done on my left breast four days earlier had come back positive for breast cancer – specifically DCIS stage 0 grade 3. I had been NED (no evidence of disease) for 16 months when I got the call that I had breast cancer. I was told it was not my colon cancer coming back and spreading, but a totally separate primary cancer.
Due to the number of areas in my left breast that had linear calcifications, my surgeon told me I would have to have a mastectomy of my left breast. I then met with my oncologist who laid out all of the statistics for me, which led me to make the decision to have a double mastectomy. I did not want to find myself in this situation again 5 or 10 years from now.
On May 15th, 2009, I had a double mastectomy and began the reconstruction process. Since I was stage 0 and my sentinel nodes came back clean, I did not need chemo. When I woke up in the recovery room, a woman I did not know from some sort of breast cancer support group associated with the hospital was standing over me. She reached down and touched my arm and told me they were there to support me all the way through breast cancer. She then handed me a pink duffle bag filled with everything pink – pink water bottle, pink blanket, pink jewelry, pink hat, pink shirt, and more. I could not embrace the pink! Imagine my surprise when I was invited by a local breast cancer awareness organization, The Tyanna Foundation, to participate in the Baltimore Ravens kickoff of their breast cancer awareness month activities, “The Crucial Catch.” I am a HUGE Ravens fan and have had season tickets for several years now. The chance to be on the field during a game was intoxicating.
I joined about 30 other survivors who were given special T-Shirts to wear and given brief instructions about what to do once on the field. The game was going to be nationally televised and they were having country music singer, Martina McBride, sing the national anthem. We were going to be standing on either side of Martina while she sang. Fans were given pink ribbons as they entered the stadium and special cards were placed in the seats on the visitor’s side that spelled out “A Crucial Catch” and displayed pink ribbons when the fans would hold them up together.
While the Ravens Marching Band was on the field, we were escorted out the very same entryway the Ravens players run out when they are being introduced. Once I got through the tunnel and onto the field, my entire body was covered in goose bumps. There were over 70,000 football fans in the stadium, staff from both teams on the sidelines, and television cameras everywhere.
Photographers were following all of us around the sidelines taking pictures. We were taken around the whole field and to the Ravens sideline where we got a close-up view of the team introductions. It was the most amazing feeling to be on the field and hear everyone cheering and see the players up close. Once the players were on the sideline we were shuffled out to the field to take our positions.
When the announcements began, I turned to look over at the visitor’s side and was amazed by the powerful message being held up by the fans. It was probably the first time that seeing things covered in pink didn’t bother me. I suddenly became very emotional listening to everyone cheering us on for being survivors – even the players were cheering for us. When
Martina McBride started singing the National Anthem, I found myself singing along with her as loud as I could. It was all over so quickly and they rushed us off the field so the game could begin. As we all headed back into the tunnel, fans on both sides cheered us on – we all felt very special that night. As I stood in the tunnel at Ravens Stadium, in the same place where future Hall of Fame football players have stood, I turned and took one last look at a stadium filled with pink.
Two cancers in two years. Two. What are the odds? I speak out about colon cancer almost daily to whomever will listen and now I have begun to encourage everyone to get a mammogram and not put it off. My mammogram saved my life and it was my first one! I am also learning to embrace pink. I still don’t love that it is everywhere and on everything, but I have come to realize that as passionate as I am about advocating for colon cancer awareness, I have room to advocate for breast cancer awareness. Heck, I even bought a pair of hot pink high heeled shoes!