Texans STM Sandy Payne shares cancer journey

In honor of Cancer Screening Week from December 5-9, the Houston Texans would like to share the story of an original PSL holder and season ticket member, Sandy Payne.

Sandy Payne considers her recent cancer diagnosis a "Crucial Catch," aptly named after the NFL's annual initiative to help fight cancer through early detection. Payne grew up in western Pennsylvania, deep in Steelers Nation, when her love of football first blossomed.

"The Steel Curtain and quarterback Terry Bradshaw were in their prime during my early childhood, and I was hooked," Payne said. "A football fan for life."

Payne was living in Boston when she first began dating Dennis, a former Houston Oilers fan. A few weeks into their relationship, the two learned about the possibility of purchasing tickets for the newest NFL franchise, the Houston Texans.

"Bullish on our relationship, we each bought two tickets, original PSL seats next to each other," Payne said. "We were committing and both so excited to be NFL season ticket holders!"

In 2001 Payne moved across the country began her new life as a Houstonian and a lifelong Texans fan. Fast forward twenty years and Payne would find an unusual lump just months after her annual mammogram.

"I have never been complacent about mammograms," Payne said. "Being adopted, my doctor had me start screenings early, 35 for mammograms and 45 for colonoscopies. I had my annual mammogram in January 2021, no unusual findings. Late spring, I found a lump and immediately got an appointment, another mammogram and ultrasound which led to a biopsy."

On June 4, 2021, Payne's biopsy results revealed a scary diagnosis, Triple Negative Breast Cancer. On June 21, Payne started intravenous chemotherapy. One week before Christmas, she underwent a total right breast mastectomy.

"This year, I had 30 radiation treatments and then almost six months of oral chemo," Payne said. "All in – my cancer treatments took 470 days!"

Payne finally finished her last chemo on September 26, 2022 and has resumed some of her favorite activities, which include running and attending Texans home games.

"I am off chemo, and it is delightful!" Payne exclaimed. "I love being able to go to the stadium for games again and look forward to the day when the Texans will give us another win. I am also back running and training for my 16th Houston Half marathon."

Payne attended the original Houston Texans PSL tailgate this season. When asked about her greatest memory as a Texans fan, Payne lists four of her favorite games.

"It is hard to pick one," she said. "I will share my Top Four: Game One Win against the Cowboys, First Playoff Win in 2012, The London Game Win in 2019 and December 26, 2021 unexpected win against the Chargers, 41 – 29."

Payne plans on getting her next CT scan three days after Christmas. Her breast reconstruction surgery is scheduled for five days after the 2023 Houston Half Marathon in January.

"This cancer screening week, I encourage each of you to take action," Payne said. "Schedule your colonoscopy, mammogram or PSA blood test if they are past due."

According to the American Cancer Society, regular screening can help find certain cancers early, when they are most likely to be treated successfully. Learn more about cancer screening at CancerScreenWeek.org.

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