Hope Hero: Landon Lanier
Meet 41-year-old Landon Lanier. Landon lives in Atlanta, GA, with her husband and three children- Hicks (11), Christopher (9) and Caroline (7). Three and a half years ago, this young mom was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. An advanced cancer diagnosis was the last thing Landon expected but even in the face of sudden adversity, Landon triumphed. Her journey, however, was not an easy one. This brave mother endured unimaginable challenges yet remained optimistic, grateful and, last but not least- filled with hope.
Just a side note: I’m so excited about all the upcoming hope heroes we have coming up in this series but this hero admittedly carries a very special place in my heart. Landon and I have been best friends for most of my life. She has always been by my side and one of my biggest sources of support. I am insanely proud of my dear friend. I have found that telling your story requires bravery and vulnerability and, as you will see, Landon has embraced both. I know my friend’s faith and attitude will impact many and her determination and courage will leave a lasting imprint on all your hearts.
L: When I was 38, I was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer. My children were 4, 6 and 8 at the time. I was in good shape and felt healthy, so the last thing I expected was an advanced cancer diagnosis. Yet, I knew I would get through it. Not only because I had watched my best friend (the author of this amazing blog!) bravely beat cancer THREE times and never lose hope, but also because I knew in my heart of hearts that God would use this challenging experience to teach me, to change me and to shape me into the person He intended me to be. Naturally, I had moments of fear and doubt, but I also felt certain that there had to be a reason and a purpose for my suffering that was beyond my understanding.
I found hope and took comfort in knowing that God was at the center of it all (and still is!) and that my cancer journey is meant to be part of His story for my life.
I know it sounds cliche, but this experience taught me profound lessons in (1) humility and understanding the limits of my ability to control events, (2) gratitude and the importance of recognizing blessings, and (3) the power of hope.
Hope comes FROM God and IN trusting God.
Me: How did hope show up for you during that time?
L: For me, hope was anchored in my faith, but it showed up day-to-day in my sense of gratitude.
I realized that when I was grateful—when I took a moment to truly count my blessings—hope appeared.
My mantra during treatment became “gratitude shapes my attitude,” and I learned that if I focused on what I am grateful for, even amidst the most difficult circumstances, that hope would come from it.
And when you have hope, your spirit is lifted … it’s lighter, it’s brighter, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Me and Landon leaving one of her many chemo sessions. Even after a long and difficult day, my dear friend was still smiling
Me: Did you ever want to give up on hope?
L: Yes! I endured 28 rounds of chemotherapy treatment, 33 rounds of radiation and two major surgeries. I wanted to quit at various points, but I probably reached my lowest point when I suffered a life-threatening reaction to one of the drugs and was placed in the ICU for eight days. I lost all muscle mass and was told I would be on oxygen for 6 weeks, which was physically and emotionally difficult because I didn’t feel like myself and hope was hard to find.
It was during that time, however, that I realized hope is a choice, and while it’s not always the easy choice, it is the only choice.
I ultimately learned that hope often involves surrendering control—which is not easy for a control freak like me—and when you surrender and trust God, hope is born. And by the way, I walked out of the hospital several days later without that oxygen tank.
Me: Was there a person or animal (or stuffed animal!) you remember who helped you feel more courageous?
L: My family—my amazing husband and three children, and my parents. I was determined to beat my illness because I didn’t want them to know the pain of losing their wife, their mother, their daughter. That determination birthed a tremendous amount of courage. I would do anything to protect them.
Landon let her oldest son, Hicks, cut her hair before she shaved her head. Involving her children in the process made their mom’s hair loss seem a little less scary. Dare I say Hicks even had a little bit of fun??
Me: What advice would you give to anyone going through something similar?
L: Focus on what you have rather than what you’ve lost. Be grateful. Rely on your faith. Ask for help when you need it. Cut out the noise in your life. Surround yourself with life-givers and steer clear of life-takers. Be present. Live soulfully. Find joy. Laugh. Love everyone.
Me: Did you have any sayings or quotes that helped during this difficult time?
L: Some of my favorite sayings I focused on were:
Be anxious in nothing, prayerful in everything, and thankful in anything.
If you focus on fear, you will miss all the beauty.
Sometimes you must break your life to build a more beautiful one.
Me: What does the word hero mean to you?
L: A hero is an ordinary person who overcomes fear, adversity and long odds to do extraordinary things.
Me: Where is your happy place and who are you with?
L: Anywhere fun with my family.
Me: Dream vacation spot?
L: Trekking through New Zealand.
Me: Spirit animal?
L: The butterfly because it represents elegance, endurance, hope, and rebirth.
Me: Favorite book?
L: I have two! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
Me: All-time favorite song?
L: This is hard … probably “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.
Me: Favorite TV show?
L: Another hard one! I’d say right now it’s The Crown.
Me: If you could have a drink with 3 people (dead or alive), who would they be?
L: Jesus; Grace Kelly; Oprah
Me: Anything you’d love for the world to know?
L: We all know, at least intellectually, that we aren’t invincible and that anything unfortunate that can happen to another human being could also happen to us. Yet, we are shocked and devastated when it does, and the opposing forces of hope and despair begin battling for the human soul.
Regardless of the situation, we must make the most of our time here, live intentionally, and always choose hope.
Me: Love you Lands.
I hope y’all have been as moved as Landon’s words as I have. I told y’all- she’s just the best. As always, if you have anyone in your life you would like to nominate to be a featured hope hero, please contact me through my website. I would love to hear all about it. Thanks for reading and thanks again to my best friend Landon for sharing her story. I think I speak for every reader when I say- your words have deeply touched and inspired us all.
Until next time!
In love and hope,