Every day is a gift in the eyes of 68-year-old Lana Barr-Sanders, who is a 16-year survivor of breast cancer.
“Sometimes you can just take things for granted,” said Barr-Sanders. “I don’t do that anymore. I stop and smell the roses and watch the butterflies in the morning.”
Barr-Sanders was diagnosed with Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer in 1996. What appeared to be a harmless lump, in fact turned out to be a cancer that developed quickly and led to a grim prognosis from her surgeon.
“He said that I had a 40 percent chance to live four years, because the tumor was so large,” said Barr-Sanders, whose first concern was towards her two daughters who she was raising on her own. “I was scared and withdrew for the first month. I felt lost, but by the end I told myself: ‘You got to beat this thing’”
From there, Barr-Sanders decided she would try everything possible to survive and told her oncologist, surgeon, and naturopathic doctors that they all must work together. She did chemotherapy, radiation, and took a substantial amount of natural supplements that she believes helped her survive the chemo better than others. Along with treatments, Barr-Sanders became physically more active and involved with other cancer patients.
“I got involved in the Portland Coast Marathon and did that for four years,” said Barr-Sanders. “I then blew out my knee so I decided to do dragon-boat racing until I started having heart problems from the chemo and had to stop.”
Two years ago, Barr-Sanders moved to Tucson to be in the sunshine to make up for the lack of Vitamin D from living in Oregon. While here she has continued to receive a clean bill of health and says that she feels her perseverance and determination has inspired others.
“My doctor kept saying: ‘I wish I could put your attitude in a bottle and give it to people’,” said Barr-Sanders. “That was my strength. I had the attitude of succeeding and trying to find the right answer to help my cancer.”
Now going on 16 years of surviving cancer, Barr-Sanders’ hope and encouragement for others is to try everything possible to fight cancer. Don’t give up and keep a positive attitude.