At age 45, single mom Hannah Tanata, was shocked by a breast cancer diagnosis. Here, she speaks candidly about her journey to survivorship, emphasizes the benefit of integrative health therapies at Sanford Health and gives thanks for the priceless gift of life, health and time with her young son, Ivan.
On March 19, 2021, I discovered a shooter marble-sized lump on my left breast.
I was in shock. It was so LARGE. I thought, “How could I not have noticed that before now?” I faithfully did yearly mammograms and my last one had been fewer than six months earlier.
I immediately called my primary doctor and got in for a check. From there, I was referred to the Edith Sanford Breast Center clinic for an exam, mammogram and ultrasound.
I tried not to get overly worried about it, but I had a friend die from breast cancer in her 30s, leaving behind two little girls. All I did was pray that God would give me a chance to fight whatever it was for my little boy.
Six days later, the ultrasound at Edith Sanford revealed two masses. I knew then it was cancer…which was later confirmed by a biopsy.
I kept a strong “fight” attitude outwardly for my family, friends and little boy, but in private moments there were a lot of tears and worry.
Choosing a treatment plan
On April 1, I met with the specialists at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center. My surgeon, Dr. Tuven, said something that set my tone for the whole ordeal: “The first thing you need to know is WE…ARE…GOING…TO…GET…THIS. You have a type of breast cancer that we can fight and WE…ARE…GOING…TO…FIGHT.”
After much discussion and fact searching, I chose to undergo a single mastectomy.
During surgery, cancer was also found in my lymph nodes, requiring three months of chemotherapy and 25 radiation treatments.
Through my entire fight, I felt in good hands. I was treated with compassion, understanding and respect. We are SO fortunate to have the skill and care of the cancer center in our area.
Care for mind and body, close to home
Your battle with cancer is a mental and physical MARATHON! I took advantage of integrative health services, which had a huge impact on my emotional and physical ability to keep fighting.
The massages during chemo are a little thing that makes your chemo days a little less heavy. I also worked with integrative health to get Reiki treatments. Talking about my body changes and issues and getting those treatments really helped center me for my fight. The team also worked with me on breathing and meditation exercises to help with sleep.
We are SO fortunate to have the cancer center and integrative health right under one roof, so close and to serve our rural population. I would have had to quit working to travel for treatment…that would have put an extra financial strain on me and my family…as it was, I was able to work all through my cancer treatment…nearly a year.
Life beyond cancer
By January 2022, I finally finished treatments. I am now what they call a “survivor.”
Sanford, its staff and the integrative services quite literally saved my life. My son, Ivan, and I thank you for saving his mommy so I could be there for him. It’s a gift that I am grateful for every day…a gift like no other…life!
Photo credit: Melissa Dale Photography
Hope begins with you
This year, hundreds more local women and men across the region will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But together, we can fight the pain and fear of this devastating disease with hope, healing and comfort.
100% of every gift for your local Edith Sanford Breast Center can help support:
- Integrative health services like massage therapy
- Nurse navigation
- Survivorship retreats and programming
- Cutting-edge research and discovery
- Staff education
- Lodging and meal vouchers, and more
Learn more about giving hope to women and men facing breast cancer: sanfordhealthfoundation.org/hope