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Serena Houlihan - October 2020

Superwoman Survivor

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Lana Cain Krauter is truly a Superwoman: an incredibly accomplished retail executive, beloved wife and friend and  a breast cancer survivor. On the twentieth anniversary of her survivor-ship, she shares the story of her cancer journey and advice for those undergoing similar challenges. We know you'll find her fierce determination, clarity of purpose and candor inspiring. 

"When were you diagnosed with breast cancer? What treatment did you receive? 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, four weeks after I accepted a Presidency of a large company. I moved from Chicago to Knoxville, Tennessee for the position. I was challenged with uncertainty about the career move and the diagnosis. I was incredibly blessed to have Dr. John Bell at the University of Tennessee Medical Center to perform my multiple surgeries and give me his caring and honest advice about the choices I had to make.

He told me that everyone’s cancer journey is different. He said I had no one to follow and I would have to forge my own way with guides to support me. Thus the journey began with a remarkable doctor who would “guide” me for over 7 years. My tumor was invasive but non aggressive. I had faithfully had mammograms for 15 years because my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer too. My tumor was initially diagnosed as a stage 3 so we quickly performed a lumpectomy to discover that the tumor was smaller than initially diagnosed but the margins were not sufficient to ensure the best results.

My journey continued forward with the emotional decision to have a double mastectomy and a 5 year commitment to tamoxifen. Faced with reconstructive surgery that was very challenging  (and would result in 8 more surgeries) , with the enormous responsibilities of my position and with the immediate menopausal side effects--life was a challenge!   

How do you look back upon that time? 

I look back with pride. I dealt with multiple stressful issues with a strong faith that provided much strength, energy and the will to succeed. I utilized my resources and advocated for myself with confidence and grace. Dr. Bell brought transparency, kindness, support and humor to my life’s challenges.   

Who and what helped you the most through your treatment and cancer journey?

Life became about being happy and healthy. I shifted from being totally motivated with achievements at any cost to a renewed passion for building relationships with friends, family and God. Life came into focus and success came along with that new focus.

How does your experience with cancer continue to impact your life even though you are cancer-free?

My perspective on life changed dramatically. I know it helped make me successful in my career and relationships. Life was brought into focus where the drama and negativity of life was easily evaluated and dispelled. I worked hard and kept my priorities straight. If I have my health, I have everything.    

What inspires you? 

Women who have survived, shared, and impacted others with their inspiration. The healing impact of good friends.

 What gives you a sense of peace?

Waking every morning feeling good. Working on my health with daily exercise and reflection. Doing what I love and loving what I do.

What advice would you give to family and friends of those facing similar challenges?

My advice to others who face a fight for life is to face it with the facts. Choose your doctors well because they will be with you in the fight. Advocate for yourself and others. Reach out for support and mentor-ship and be prepared for revelations from the most surprising sources. Be positive, be faithful and be strong. 

And what advice would you give to women who are facing critical health challenges?

Embrace your strength. Control the controllables. Never give up. Love harder and deeper. Remember that YOU are special. The positive outcome of a fierce challenge is inspirational and important to you and to the ones you love.

Your life will change forever. Make it wonderful because you can."

Lana is a retail visionary with decades of experience transforming some of America's favorite brands. In addition to her incredible business acumen, she's got great taste. Check out her favorites from our collection to get some spot-on gifting inspiration for your next care package.