Regis Today | Fall 2020 | Finding Courage


It was the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2018 when Janie Lausier ’19 got a phone call that she says changed her life forever: a breast cancer diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma. 

“I decided to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction,” she recalls. “It was ironic that at the time I was diagnosed, I was working on an advertising campaign
for one of my business classes where the proceeds would go to a breast cancer foundation.”

Lausier was four classes away from completing a bachelor’s degree in Regis’ dental hygiene program after transferring when Mount Ida College closed in 2018. All of her classes were online, and she made a mental commitment to finish as much work as possible before her surgery that was scheduled for a week before Christmas. Her husband Mike, along with classmate Colleen Moroney ’19, helped keep her positive and on track; but that wasn’t always easy.

“Colleen and Mike were unbelievably supportive in my worst moments,” Lausier explains. “It was depressing spending Christmas with four surgical drains coming out of my body and not being able to move or visit family. I was couch-bound for three weeks following my surgery but between Mike and Colleen, I was never alone. They took turns washing my hair and helping with dinner.”  

When January rolled around, Lausier was in the home stretch of her degree and it was time to choose a topic for her capstone project. At the time, she was also curious about how the medication prescribed for her 10-year hormone therapy treatment would affect her oral health—and the topic of her thesis was born (“Oral Effects of Hormone-Positive Breast Cancer Medication”). Quote: I was was downright terrified when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I worried that I would never earn my bachelor’s degree while dealing with my treatments.

Given a lack of recent studies, Lausier says it was a challenging topic. But she found inspiration from Regis faculty member Cynthia Deneault, RDH, MS, MPH.

“Cindy was incredible, not only in the clinic but in the classroom. She took so much time to read (and re-read) our research papers and explain how to improve them and see outside of the box. With her help, I realized that I really enjoy research; I might even look into a career opportunity down the road where I can conduct my own studies.”

Lausier served as a security forces staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force for nearly seven years before deciding to explore a career in dental hygiene. Periodontal disease runs in her family; some of her uncles and aunts had dentures before they were 50. She wanted to know why, and the more she researched, the more interested she became. Then she took the advice of her favorite cowboy.

“John Wayne said, ‘Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.’ Taking responsibility, speaking up, and being a leader all take courage, which is an invaluable trait I picked up along the way in my military career. Courage is also something you need when you decide to chase your dreams.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree at Regis, Lausier helped open a dental practice outside of Boston before landing her current role as a registered dental hygienist at North Shore Centre for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Swampscott, Massachusetts. She is passionate about the role that oral health plays in other diseases and conditions. 

“Oral health is linked to many systemic issues including heart disease, diabetes, premature birth, and rheumatoid arthritis,” says Lausier, who has helped detect disease by completing oral cancer screenings. “By treating patients and stressing good home care, I know I am helping my patients live a much healthier life.”

Reflecting back on her own health—and the fact that her reconstruction surgery was less than two months before she walked across the stage during Commencement—Lausier says that the quote she donned on her graduation cap says it best: “Let your faith be greater than your fear.” 

“I was downright terrified when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I worried that I would never earn my bachelor’s degree while dealing with my treatments. With the support of a professor, a friend, and an amazing husband, I realized that all things are possible with the right attitude.”   


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