In October 1992, Susan Landry was diagnosed with medullary carcinoma of the breast – a rare form of breast cancer involving the lymph nodes - at the early age of 33. 23 years, two different types of genetic testing, and one clinical trial later, she’s healthy and preparing to run the Louisiana Half Marathon on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
“For me, running is about being healthy in every aspect,” she says. “It’s stress relief, it’s a social thing, it burns calories – I look at it as an overall holistic approach to staying healthy.”
Medullary carcinoma accounts for only about 6% of all breast cancer cases. “I found the lump myself,” Landry notes. “I’m a scientist, so I always paid attention during routine breast exams so I’d know what was normal, and what to look for.” As a mother of three, including a 3-month old son, she was taking a shower when she felt the lump on her breast. After talking to a nurse in her office, Landry was encouraged to have it examined by a physician. “It turned out it was a rare breast cancer, and I was able to turn to Ochsner for everything.”
Things moved quickly after her diagnosis. After the initial biopsy and procedure (the surgery was performed by Dr. Bruce Cleland at Ochsner Health Center –O’Neal), Landry started in a clinical trial two weeks after surgery with Dr. Jay Brooks involving high doses of chemotherapy followed by radiation.
“To this day, any time I have any issues, he is always available for me and he takes it very seriously. He would give me advice on things that he would want his wife or his daughters to do with treatment. It was a different take on caretaking than I’d previously experienced. It was a much more personalized approach.”
She describes her Ochsner care team as “like a family.” After a recent unrelated thyroid surgery, Landry noted that Dr. Brooks made a point of calling her physician to check on her and Dr. Clelend stopped her in the hallway to ask how she was doing. “They took such good care of me – they were so concerned. Ochsner has always given me excellent care.”
Landry has yearly checkups, and so far things have been going well. “I defied many statistics, and I believe being on the clinical trial not only helped other people but it helped me. You want it to help yourself, but you want it help the future of treatment. You do it to help treatment in the future, which you may or may not be able to do.”
In a sense, she believes that her commitment to running mirrors this philosophy. “When I run a race, I almost always raise money for a cause that’s close to me. It’s about support, and doing something that is not only good for you but good for society as well.”
Ochsner is proud to be the Official Healthcare Provider of the Louisiana Marathon this Saturday, January 16th in Baton Rouge.