Survivor Stories 2014:
Laurie Tennent


1. How did you first find out you had cancer?

I felt the lump after being sick and very tired for 2 years.

2. How did you react when you heard the news?

My doctor called me on the phone just before Christmas . . . I was shocked but also relieved because it was good to know why I had been feeling so bad with no explanation and I knew there was protocol for recovery.

3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?

Chemo, radical mastectomy and radiation a year later I had the other breast removed. I elected for no reconstruction and healed very quickly.

4. What most surprised you about your treatment?

How inconclusive and incorrect all the original testing was.

5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Breathe, make sure you have an advocate with you at every appointment . . . other than your family . . . they can take notes and make appointments for you. You and your loved ones are too emotional to hear all the details. DON’T LOOK ONLINE . . . have someone weed thru the bad news online .. let them do the research and give you what you need to see.

6. How long have you been cancer free?

2 years

7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?


Here is the poem I wrote about the experience:

Twas the week before Christmas and all through my breast
Were vicious little cells multiplying in jest
Working their way insitu and duct
thru tissue and lymph node sure to obstruct

The doctors and nurses were whispering thoughts
Discussing gifts I’m sure they had bought
While changing gowns tied in front tied in back
I was wheeled into machinery sure to be zapped.

Now mammogram, now ultrasound, now bone scan, MRI
What will you show us and don’t let me cry.
Then all of a sudden there was so much chatter
I sprang to the screen to see what’s the matter?

I knew in that moment I must be quite sick
Then came all the needles my skin they did prick.
Cursing thru every one of my veins
Clean sweeping, destroying, white blood cells maintain

Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol so strong
Thick, beautiful red hair now was all gone.
The voluptuous D cups were next to go
Melting away with the fresh glistening snow

Wasting no time for cells to resume battle
Weeks of radiation made all my bones rattle.
And now complete with treatment fit for a queen
My health has resumed my tests are all clean.
So into the world I take my place
Grabbing my camera with a smile on my face

8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?


Mom advice WHEN I WAS ASKED What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children. To watch them embrace life, smiling when I hear my words come through their mouths like it was their idea . . . they are amazing. I realized that if I left the planet today, they would be just fine. Job well done.


Laurie Tennent is a photographer who has worked in sophisticated photographic media for many years. She served as president of Michigan Friends of Photography for ten years and an instructor of photography at various courses and workshops throughout metro Detroit. Her fine art photography has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally and was most recently featured in a solo show in Paris.

On October 2nd, she performed in Dancing with the Survivors in Bloomfield Hills, MI, a fundraising gala held in 20 cities nationwide. Dancing with the Survivors features breast cancer survivors paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios for an evening of music, cocktails, food and ballroom dance. All proceeds benefit The Pink Fund, a national organization that provides individuals in active treatment for breast cancer with up to 90 days of financial assistance to cover non-medical expenses, such as health insurance premiums, housing, transportation and utilities.

Donations for Dancing with the Survivors will be accepted through October 31st, 2014. To support Laurie, click here.