‘Something was off,’ Jane Mannon recalls catching cancer early

October 1, 2018

Jane Mannon is a sonography instructor at the St. Mary's School of Medical Imaging in Huntington and a breast cancer survivor.

Focus on women’s health

Jane Mannon woke up one morning last summer and just knew.

It’s a bizarre explanation, she’ll admit. In fact there’s no real explanation beyond writing it off to a woman’s intuition or the providence of God.

For some reason or another, she knew the cancer was in there. She just didn’t know where.

“I knew something was off,” remembered Mannon, a grandmother to three girls and a sonography instructor at the St. Mary’s School of Medical Imaging in Huntington. “There was no lump — nothing. It’s very strange and I don’t know how to explain it.”

She’d not been very consistent in getting her annual mammograms, but she had no family history and seemingly no reason to worry about it other than being a woman over 40. There were no red flags until that one morning.

That next week, St. Mary’s offered annual mammograms for their employees, and Mannon managed to switch appointments with a co-worker for an earlier date. Just days after that strange feeling, the doctors had found it: a minuscule tumor about the size of a grain of salt in the very early stages of breast cancer.

While it was Stage I and hadn’t spread, the doctors rightfully expected her to be at least a little upset, Mannon recalled. She wasn’t — she had felt like she had already known — though the idea of her own mortality didn’t settle any easier because of it.

“My biggest fear was that I was going to leave my granddaughters, and I didn’t want to leave them,” Mannon said.

It all moved fast from there, she recalled. While discussing her treatment options with Dr. James Morgan and Dr. Ben Moo-savi and St. Mary’s Medical Center, Mannon added that bringing her adult son and daughter with her for consultation meetings helped her keep the process organized.

“I think you miss things yourself, but they pick up things the doctors say that you don’t,” she advised. “I think everyone ought to do that.”

She benefited from a rock-sold support system of her family, neighbors, and St. Mary’s coworkers, who were in constant contact with a kind word of encourage, a meal or a hug.

“Nobody gave me a chance to be down,” she remembered. “People need support, and there’s always places that will give them support.”

And while she initially had fears for her own life, she put her faith what had sparked her premonition in the first place

“I knew He was going to take care of me,” Mannon said. “He brought me to (the doctors), and I trusted my doctors so much, and I had complete faith that they were going to take care of me.”

About two months after diagnosis, she underwent a double mastectomy on Oct. 10, instantly clearing her of cancer without chemotherapy or radiation. She went in for reconstructive surgery on Dec. 20, and officially ended her procedures.

But it wasn’t exactly all smiles from there, as Mannon and many other breast cancer survivors find. Losing her breasts felt like severing a connection to her children, whom she breastfed, and the scarring initially made it difficult to see herself in the mirror as a whole, healthy person.

“I didn’t look at myself for a long time. I didn’t look at myself until I was ready/′ she recalled.

But the experience had pushed her to live a more healthy lifestyle. As she lost weight, bought new clothes and took better care of herself, it finally hit her that she was whole again.

“And then when I did look, it was all OK,” Mannon said. “I knew when I was ready to look, so I didn’t until I was ready.”

The experience has changed not only her body, but also her entire outlook on life.

“I do a lot of what makes me happy and I don’t worry about the small stuff anymore,” Mannon said. “If you get a flat tire, who cares? Call somebody. You know, stuff that would get upset about before, I don’t care anymore.”

Mannon will share her story publicly at St. Mary’s Breast Cancer Survivor Reunion from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at the St. Mary’s Conference Center at 2849 5th Ave. in Huntington. It’s a huge step for her, considering how long she hadn’t talked about her situation.

Her main advice: Find it early, and that’s done through regular mammograms.

“I was so blessed. How many people do you know that find out this early just by knowing?” Mannon said. “As soon as you turn 40, get your mammogram.

“Don’t wait. If you do have a feeling, go with it.”

The St. Mary’s Breast Center can be reached at 304-526-8221.

“Don’t wait. If you do have a feeling, go with it.”

Jane Mannon

breast cancer survivor

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