HEATH – Shanay Nye celebrated a special anniversary last week.
It was not the 15th wedding anniversary with her husband, Bryan Nye. It will be in the future, but that anniversary would not be possible if not for what led up to the other one.
On Oct. 21, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Heath woman celebrated her one-year anniversary of being free from the disease. If not for early diagnosis, and local gynecologist Dr. Janae Davis, Nye and family might not have been able to celebrate.
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She wants to share her story, not only as a way of urging women to get mammograms even at a young age, but to show there is plenty of hope once diagnosed.
Nye is 39, but at age 37, she was diagnosed in April of 2019 with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma/HER2 positive breast cancer. “I never thought it would happen to me,” she said. “I did genetic testing, and I was not a carrier of cancer genes, plus no one in my family had it.”
In 2018, Dr. Davis said she felt something, when she performed a mammogram on Nye at age 36. “It turned out to be nothing, a benign cyst,” said Nye, who is a transition specialist for the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “But that got me put on a list for another test the next year. She (Dr. Davis) is amazing. She saved my life.”
In February of 2019, a week before her appointment, Nye performed a self check. “I only did them occasionally, but I felt something on my left side,” she recalled. “I told them, and they did a diagnostic, instead of just the normal services,” Nye said. “They also did an ultrasound. Then, Dr. Davis said I should go in for a biopsy.”
Dr. Davis called Nye at work, and informed her that her lymph node had tested positive for cancer. “I was in shock,” she said. “What do I now?” Her immediate thoughts went to Bryan, on active duty with the National Guard who works at the Armory in Newark, and her children: Colton Crawmer, 17, a senior at Lakewood, 10-year-old Bryce who is in fifth grade at Heath’s Stevenson Elementary, and 6-year-old Lexi who is a first grader at Heath’s Garfield Elementary.
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She started out with six rounds of chemotherapy at Zangmeister Cancer Center in Columbus. “My oncologist, Dr. Emily Whitman, said it would help slow the rate of re-occurrence,” Nye said. “I had to take five days off work for each treatment. Days three and four were usually the worst.”
Fortunately, Nye had a lot of support from a large family (she has three brothers and three sisters plus her parents), friends, and co-workers at Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Ashley Bryan, LCBDD service coordinator, raised money for Shanay through the purchase of T-shirts and selling breast cancer bracelets. The shirts said “Who Says Girls Can’t Fight?” on the front, and “Shanay’s Tribe” on the back.
“I also organized a meal train during the weeks that she had chemo, so that others were able to help by providing a meal for her and her family,” Bryan said. “That way, she could rest.”
Her last chemo treatment was Sept. 25 of last year. Nye was a candidate for a lumpectomy, performed by Mount Carmel surgeon Dr. Kristine Slam, and it was found that the chemo had taken out the cancer mass. So tissue around the mass, and the lymph node were removed. Then Nye had to undergo 30 rounds of radiation treatment after surgery. “They were being proactive, and making sure it (the cancer) didn’t come back,” she said.
On Oct. 21, 2019, it was determined that she had come back completely from the cancer, and was classified as an NED (No Evidence from Disease). She continued her year-long Herceptin treatment up until June 4 of this year. “I just had my six-month mammogram last week, and it came back clear,” Nye said. “Now, I get one every year instead of six months. I still will see my oncologist and surgeon every three months for five years. If I make it to five years, it’s a good indication that it is not going to come back.”
Throughout her ordeal, Nye shared photos and videos on her “Shanay’s Tribe” Facebook page, documenting her treatments and the side effects. She continues to share her story as much as possible, doing a “story slam” with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and also a spot for the Licking County Health Department’s SASS (Screening And Survivor Support) breast cancer group.
Nye has learned a lot, and wants to educate other women.
“Things couldn’t have gone any better, and I am blessed to get through it as well as I did,” she said. “Because a lot of women struggle with it. Self checks are not done enough, especially among younger women. Mammograms should be started a lot earlier. I met so many other younger women, even in their 20’s. The youngest was diagnosed at 18.”
Nye could not have gotten through it without all the support she received. Megan Harter, another service coordinator at LCBDD, got her a fleece blanket for Christmas that features various pictures of she and her family.
“She sure has been through a lot, with being so young, and I know we are all so happy to see her win this fight,” Bryan said.
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