From diagnosis to destiny
By Dana Borick Brigandi
When Heather (Nelson) Lanning ’06 was a student at Lycoming College, she
was active in the Colleges Against Cancer club and was a speaker during the
annual Relay For
But what many
of her classmates
didn’t know was
lymphoma that was
the final semester
of her senior year.
diagnosed on Jan.
13, 2006, it was
Friday the 13th, so
it is hard to forget
the date,” Lanning
Tuesday during the
was physically and emotionally draining.
“I was in a lot of pain and was pretty much bed-ridden,” she said.
“My professors were very understanding and my schedule was modified
After six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation, Lanning was
declared cancer-free in August 2006. Lanning said many people remember
her survivor speech during the campus Relay because she did something very
“Most people did not know how sick I was because I always wore my wig,”
Lanning said. “I vaguely remember my speech – I wrote about how cancer
patients are like Samson, we might not have any hair and are physically weaker,
but it doesn’t dampen our Warrior spirit. Out of the blue, I decided I was
whipping off the wig, because I knew it would be more impactful.”
Lanning said the all-volunteer Relay For Life shows the power that a group
of passionate people can display.
“If you are ever in need of a healthy dose of restored faith in humanity, go to
a relay,” she said. “After seeing one event, I knew I had to be a part of it, which
eventually led me to my career with the American Cancer Society.”
Lanning now is the income development specialist for the East Central
Division of the American Cancer Society in State College, Pa. She said that
Hena Ahmad ’04 was just starting her cancer journey as she was finishing hers
and that they were fortunate to reconnect before Ahmad’s passing.
“When Hena passed away in 2010, Lycoming College held a memorial
service for her in Honors Hall,” Laning said. “It gave Hena’s friends, professors
and loved ones a chance to reconvene in a place that held many special
memories. Hena loved her time at Lycoming, and we all were given the
opportunity to come ‘home’ to say goodbye. As you can see, Lycoming does
not forget its own and this makes me very proud to say that I am an alumna of
Laura (Holdredge) Layaoulholdredge@hotmail.com
a doctorate in biochemical toxicology
from Rutgers University of Pharmacology
and Toxicology and The University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
in January. Amanda is a mammalian
toxicologist at FMC Corp., where she
manages contracted toxicology studies,
evaluates the toxicity of new active
ingredients and formulations, and
contributes to critical toxicology reviews
of FMC products around the globe.
been accepted into the Partners of the
America’s Fellowship in Paraguay. The
fellowship aims to build relationships
with professionals and organizations in a
diverse community setting that is centered
around citizen advocacy, participation,
transparency and accountability. Amil
also participated in the Out of the
Darkness overnight walk in Washington,
D.C., June 1-2, to help raise awareness for
depression and suicide.
returned to campus to give a presentation
in the College Archives on April 12.
He has been developing his storytelling
repertoire at Renaissance fairs and other
venues. His work is available at www.
kyletheunnecessary.com. Kyle earned a
Cancer survivor Heather (Nelson) Lanning ’06 helps the American
Cancer Society “celebrate more birthdays.”
Amil Guzman ’08
Kyle Kissell ’08