After a Seymour woman was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in June 2016, she spoke with the surgeon who had performed her lumpectomy in 2013.
That surgeon, however, would not be able to perform the woman’s next surgery because she, too, had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Mary Anne Jordan, 67, of Seymour and Dr. Amanda Dick, 38, of Brownstown had a patient-doctor bond, but now, they also shared the bond of being cancer survivors.
Both women walked in the 143rd Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade on May 5 after being nominated and voted for online. The parade is in recognition of ovarian and breast cancer survivors.
Dick is a general surgeon at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, and Jordan is assistant vice president and retail loan area manager for JCB in Seymour.
Each came across the other’s name on the voting site and were rooting for one another.
“I came across Mary Anne’s name, then I was pulling for her, too,” Dick said. “I thought it would be cool if we both got to be in the parade together. We thought it was a neat coincidence that we were in the survivors parade together with me being Mary Anne’s surgeon.”
Dick was nominated by Cathy Hackman of Vallonia, who represented all of Dick’s office staff. Hackman also was the one who conducted a fundraiser for the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center last fall and let Dick cut off her hair after a goal of $5,000 was met.
“I nominated Amanda because she is a phenomenal doctor, she is strong and I admire her,” Hackman said. “She is compassionate with her patients and with herself going through it, facing it head-on and doing a wonderful job at the hospital.”
Jordan was nominated for the parade by her friend and fellow Seymour resident, Patti Rucker, who walked in the parade in 2015 as an ovarian cancer survivor.
“I am 61 now and had just turned 50 when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” Rucker said. “I went to Dr. Fish on a Thursday, who sent me to an oncologist on Friday, then had surgery on Monday, and that never happens.”
Rucker felt very thankful for the speedy timing between her diagnosis and her surgery and knew her situation was in God’s hands, she said.
“I nominated Mary Anne for the parade because I thought she would be a great candidate,” Rucker said. “So many people know her from the bank. I told Mary Anne this was her chance to represent Seymour and southern Indiana.”
Jordan’s late husband, Ted Jordan, passed away in 2015, so she chose her brother, Jim Plump, to be her parade escort. Plump is executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp.
Jordan said she was happy to get to spend the day with her brother.
“I was honored and pleased to escort my sister, and it was a great honor for her and Amanda to be in the parade,” Plump said. “The weather that day was kind of shaky, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the survivors there that day.”
Dick’s escort was her husband, Dr. Andrew Dick, an anesthesiologist at Schneck Medical Center. Andrew was at his wife’s side throughout her surgery and treatments.
Andrew said the parade was something fun the two could share. He even wore a hot pink suit for the honorable occasion.
“I was happy she was nominated and not at all surprised when our friends and community voted for her to participate in the parade,” he said. “She is clearly deserving of being recognized for her unique position as one who is not only a survivor but also treats patients who become survivors.”
The day of the parade was cold and rainy, so participants were allowed to walk on the turf instead of the dirt. Jordan and Amanda wore plastic coverings over their hats and had to switch out their high-heeled shoes for rubber boots. Jordan said her boots were decorated with pink horses.
Amanda said walking on the track and seeing all of the people standing and cheering made her feel really powerful.
Surgery and treatments were hard, but she had a lot of people counting on her and watching her, she said.
“The weather for the parade was terrible, but we still had a great time,” Amanda said. “It was so inspiring to see so many people that had been through it and were doing well.”
Jordan said the feeling they had participating in the parade is hard to describe. She said she was humbled and honored by the experience.
“We thought that was really something, that we were two people from the same town and have this relationship since it was Amanda that took care of me the first time,” Jordan said.
Amanda performed Jordan’s first surgery in 2013.
“I had no symptoms with that cancer, and it was found during my routine mammogram,” Jordan said.
Her subsequent mammograms in 2014 and 2015 were clear, but when it came to her 2016 checkup, something showed up on the X-ray. She learned she had a different type of breast cancer, and it was on the other side.
“Amanda called to talk to me and asked if I had talked to the radiologist, and she said, ‘So you know it’s cancer again,’ and I told her I did,” Jordan said. “She said, ‘The only thing is, Mary Anne, I’m not going to be able to do your surgery this time.’”
Jordan then learned Amanda had just received results from her own biopsy that had been performed just a few days before Jordan’s. It turned out that both women had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I have two cousins who had breast cancer, and my mother was actually diagnosed with breast cancer the day before I had my surgery,” Amanda said. “Hers was caught very early and not the same type of cancer that I had.”
Last spring, Amanda became suspicious of a small lump on her right breast. She had just finished nursing her youngest son, and a muscle near the right breast felt a little sore, but she thought it was sore from exercising.
“My first thought was that it was probably just because I had stopped nursing, and maybe there was a little milk duct that was clogged,” she said. “I decided to get imaging done because that’s what I would have told a patient with those symptoms.”
For treatment, Amanda had a bilateral mastectomy and is now done with her chemo. Currently, she takes a pill once a day to block estrogen and reduce the risk of her breast cancer returning.
For her most recent cancer, Jordan had a lumpectomy and radiation. She said she feels good now and has energy. Even though radiation can zap a person’s energy, Jordan said she just doesn’t have time to be tired.
“We have such a phenomenal cancer center here, and we both did our chemo here,” Jordan said. “I am still taking chemo pills from my first cancer and have to take them for five years total.”
Jordan said she hopes by sharing her story, at least one person will decide to go get a mammogram and a checkup, just to be safe.
As for Amanda, she is feeling pretty good now. She gets tired a little easier than before but is trying to cut herself some slack, she said.
“I hope that readers can take a moment to appreciate a loved one who has struggled or helped them through a tough time,” Amanda said. “As Rumi said, ‘We’re all just walking each other home.’”
During Kentucky Oaks day, Churchill Downs’ historic racetrack is decorated in pink in an effort to raise funds and drive national attention to the fight against breast and ovarian cancer.
The event culminates in the Survivors Parade, which is now in its ninth year. The parade is a march of breast and ovarian cancer survivors that takes place on the racetrack prior to the running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks race.
Pink Out has raised more than $820,000 for charity in the past eight years.
For information, visit kentuckyderby.com/visit/derby-week/oaks/survivors-parade.
Dr. Amanda Dick:
Loves to cook
Runs, but not very fast
Is a serious book addict
Mary Anne Jordan:
Does not sew
Quilts and pieces by hand
Over the years, has made 12 quilts