Fall 2023
Gratefully Yours

Thriving after breast cancer

Dear Dr. Blaes,

Just over nine years ago, I walked into the M Health Fairview Masonic Cancer Clinic for a mammogram and ultrasound to “ease my mind” after discovering a lump in my breast. A week later, I walked into your office, my mind spinning with questions and worry. I couldn’t fathom how breast cancer had found its way into my life at such a young age, with twin 2-year-olds waiting for me at home.


You delicately delivered my diagnosis, fully aware of the impact it would have on my life. Despite the fear and uncertainty that consumed me, your presence put me at ease. You patiently guided my husband and me through an enormous amount of information and tirelessly answered all our questions. Your confidence and expertise shone through as you assured us that you and your team had a treatment plan. I’ll never forget how you said your goal was to make the cancer go away and never come back! Those few words brought me so much comfort then, and they still do today.

Your wonderful care extended far beyond that first day. Throughout this cancer “journey” (perhaps we should call it a “roller coaster” because there are many ups and downs along the way!), you’ve been a pillar of support. When we discussed fertility options, you made sure I was well-informed. Your genuine interest in my family and my boys’ well-being touched my heart deeply. You care about your patients and look at your work as treating the person, not just the disease.

Not only does the passion you have for your patients show through your day-to-day interaction, but it shines brightly through your cancer survivorship research. Cancer treatment takes a toll on the body, but I remember you telling me that what I went through should never stop me from doing what I want to do. (Another thing I repeat to myself often.) Your research is starting such an important conversation about how survivors can thrive after a diagnosis.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and so many others. Your care, passion, and dedication do not go unnoticed. Thank you for guiding me and my family through this “roller coaster” with empathy, expertise, and a genuine concern for my well-being.

From Jeff, Carter, Caleb, and me, thank you. We will forever be grateful.

— Breast cancer survivor Heather Vanis in a letter to M Health Fairview oncologist Anne Blaes, MD