SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Monday afternoon, Oct. 10, at the B.B. Comer Memorial Library, Landyn Strickland spoke about the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and shared details about her battle with triple negative breast cancer.
Strickland is a fourth-grade teacher at B.B. Comer Elementary School. She describes herself as a wife, daughter, and dear friend to those close to her.
Last June, she was preparing for the happiest moments of her life. Her wedding was coming up on Saturday, and Strickland was preparing for her big weekend starting with the rehearsal dinner on Friday.
However, on Wednesday of that week, she noticed a strange lump on the upper outside of one of her breasts. She wanted to blow it off as nothing, but after showing her mother and having a family friend check it out, they decided that further evaluation was necessary.
After enjoying her wedding and honeymoon, she talked with doctors and received multiple ultrasounds before having a biopsy done.
The results were not what Strickland wanted to hear. A benign adenoma was discovered, and Strickland was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. It is called triple negative because the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors nor can they make HER2 protein.
Strickland opted to have the benign spot removed as soon as she could, and she believes it was a decision that saved her life.
“If I hadn’t taken it out, I wouldn’t be here,” expressed Strickland.
Strickland underwent 20 weeks of multiple kinds of chemotherapy treatment. Then, at the beginning of this year, Strickland made the decision to have a double mastectomy.
Her doctors informed her that the treatments had a 100 percent effectiveness rate, and in July, she hit a new milestone: her chemo port was removed.
In all of this, Strickland’s message to those that have gone through the struggles of breast cancer as well as those that haven’t is clear. Breast Cancer Awareness is about much more than just a pink ribbon.
“This is so much more than just throwing on a pink t-shirt,” explained Strickland. “Are you aware, though? [Breast cancer] doesn’t run in my family. I took the genetics test along this journey, and it was negative. 80 percent of breast cancers are not genetic.”
Strickland will turn 26 this December, and at the Community Links, she urged those in attendance, both men and women of any age, to pay attention to their bodies and go get screened if they feel the need.
“I was in tune with my body and I knew if something was not normal,” Strickland pointed out. “I knew that this [lump] was not there before. Please, please, please just pay attention to those little things.”