Chloe Harrouche of The Lanby: “Stay active and hydrated”

Stay active and hydrated: push yourself to go on a short walk every day — the increased circulation will dramatically speed up your recovery post treatment. A very dear family friend told me early on that staying hydrated was the most important chemo-hack, and he was right. On the days surrounding treatment, you want to make sure […]

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Stay active and hydrated: push yourself to go on a short walk every day — the increased circulation will dramatically speed up your recovery post treatment. A very dear family friend told me early on that staying hydrated was the most important chemo-hack, and he was right. On the days surrounding treatment, you want to make sure you’re drinking at least 2–3L of water/day to make sure the toxins don’t stay in your bladder for too long, which can cause irritation.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chloe Harrouche.

Chloe Harrouche is a Co-Founder of The Lanby, a hospitality-forward primary care members club. A skilled healthcare growth strategist, with experience spanning multiple touchpoints within the industry, Harrouche’s personal experience as a young survivor of breast cancer shaped her firsthand perspective of what patients want and need to feel supported in the primary care system. With the patient perspective at its core, The Lanby is reimagining concierge medicine for the modern generation.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in NYC. My parents are both originally from Iran, but my mom grew up in Paris. My childhood was filled with love. I’m incredibly close with my two sisters (I’m the middle child) and I’ve always felt lucky to have the family I have.

I wasn’t always the best student, but I was super competitive, and that ultimately fueled my desire to get good grades and excel in sports. It was definitely in high school where I first learned to be disciplined and resilient.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my first instinct was to question what this all meant. Not in a self-deprecating “why me?” kind of way (because I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason). I wanted to understand what this diagnosis meant in the greater context of my life — I wanted answers as to how this would influence me and those around me moving forward. When I asked my Rabbi, he said “you may never know the answer, but what you should always remember is that God only gives us what we can handle.” Those of us given difficult challenges have the most potential. That message has stayed with me through every struggle I’ve faced since. It has helped me see the bigger picture and look at challenges as opportunities to pivot and grow, to gain perspective and derive new meaning out of life. I’ll probably never say I’m glad I had breast cancer, but I will say with confidence that I’ve gained a lot from the experience and I’m a better person for it.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?

I was one year out of college — 23 years old. I had felt a bump in my breast for a while, but never thought it was abnormal. The next time I went in for my annual gyno appointment, I brought it up with my doctor, who felt it and said it was just dense tissue (a fair assumption given my age and family history). Over the next 6 months, I didn’t think twice about it. I was a healthcare consultant, traveling every week to North Carolina. I’m not exactly sure what prompted it, but as I was drying myself after a shower, I felt the same lump I had always felt, but much harder than it ever was. I called my gynecologist and she suggested that I get a sonogram. The radiologists agreed that it was probably nothing, but decided to do a biopsy in case. I would get the results the following Monday. I went back to North Carolina assuming they were right, that it was nothing. Shortly after arriving at my client’s office, I got a call from my parents. They told me the doctor had called and that I needed to come back to New York for more tests. Still assuming it was nothing, I told them I would be back on Friday and would do the tests then. After a lot of back and forth, they finally blurted out that the biopsy came back positive for cancer cells. I studied bioengineering in college, but I had no idea what “having cancer cells” meant. It sounded serious enough that I knew I had to fly home, so I told my team I would be back the following week (of course, I didn’t go back but instead took a leave of absence for 8 months). I was terrified, but I still didn’t understand what the diagnosis was. I remember finally breaking down as I arrived at the check in counter, begging the airline attendant to let me change my flight because I had just been diagnosed with cancer. I remember calling my boyfriend, who I had been with since freshman year of college, to share the news. I didn’t even know what to say. I can’t imagine what must have gone through his mind. I also vividly remember my dad’s reaction. Always cool, calm and collected, he proceeded to call me every ten minutes while I waited in the airport to make sure I too stayed calm. I knew how sad he would be to hear me sad, so I hid any fear from my voice. From that moment on, I promised myself that I would never let myself break down in front of the people I cared about.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

The scariest part was not knowing how serious the diagnosis was. I didn’t know if cancer cells meant full blown cancer, or to what extent the treatment would affect the rest of my life. I learned after the MRI that I was at least Stage 2, possibly Stage 3, which meant I needed chemotherapy on top of a mastectomy. The mastectomy didn’t scare me at all, in fact I opted for double instead of a single because I wanted to be as aggressive as I could be. But the thought of being a chemo patient really threw me. You see in the movies people losing their hair and becoming so frail and sick. I couldn’t imagine that happening to me. The first oncologist I met with was also so matter of fact — zero emotional intelligence. She bluntly warned that my ovaries would most likely age from the chemo and that I wouldn’t be able to have kids for ten years while I was on tamoxifen, no if’s, and’s or but’s. I don’t think I ever feared I was going to die, but perhaps superficially, I worried that this would change the course of my life and no one would ever look at me the same.

How did you react in the short term?

I really tried not to show emotion. I was committed to putting my head down and plowing forward. I didn’t want to show weakness, mostly because I didn’t want my family, boyfriend (now husband), or friends to worry about me. I sort of laughed it off, like no big deal. My sisters were instrumental in that respect. They never pitied me, but somehow made the whole thing one big joke. My little sister named my tumor Ellen, which was so random and hilarious, I remember cracking up in the hospital room screaming “F*** Ellen!” We went to Ricky’s to try on costume wigs in every crazy color imaginable (pink, purple, blue). We somehow found a way to turn everything that could be sad into something silly.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

I think the hardest part for me psychologically was the moment “the dust settled.” I had my surgery, finished chemo and radiation, and I was ready to get back to the real world. But I was still bald, no eyebrows. It is hard to re-emerge as a healthy 24 year-old when you look like that. That’s when all the emotions I had suppressed through the course of my treatment came piling on. I became depressed and frustrated, and I struggled to find the right outlet to cope. Ultimately, what has helped me the most is taking control of my health. I’ve taught myself so much about nutrition and various other wellness modalities to optimize my health and focus my efforts on prevention. I know so much of our health is up to chance, but there’s so much we can do to minimize our risks. Giving myself that opportunity has made me feel a sense of ownership over my future, which is probably what I craved the most coming out of treatment.

Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

I take a Jewish learning class once a week with a woman who I’ve known since college. She is so spiritual and resilient, and her glass is always full, no matter what life throws at her. My classes with her have given me more mental health than any therapist I have ever worked with. She inspires me to lead with gratitude. My sessions with her are completely unrelated to my cancer journey, but they’ve taught me what it means to have humility, to appreciate the blessings in my life, and to take on challenges as opportunities for growth.

In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?

Given how much we hated Ellen, it’s hard to imagine my cancer offering a positive message. But I guess I would hope that Ellen would want me to know that she was just a nuisance, not a death sentence. I’ve always had faith that my cancer was not meant to completely derail the rest of my life. Rather, I believe it was put in my path as a small bump in the road to wake me up, broaden my worldview, and live a deeper and more meaningful life. I’m not sure if Ellen would have warned me of this, but I’m glad I got rid of her sooner than later!

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before? Can you please explain with a story or example?

It’s shown me that life is fragile and we have to savor every moment of it. It’s taught me the importance of having family and friends that can turn a sad moment into a happy one.

Life is full of ups and downs, and we all have our own unique battles. I used to worry that cancer would define me. I now can see that it has shaped me, but it by no means defines me. It has given me the perspective to appreciate the good and enjoy my life. I’ve faced many challenges since my diagnosis, and some hit me even harder than my diagnosis. But what eventually brought me back was regaining that perspective, knowing how blessed I am in so many other ways and taking advantage of those opportunities instead of dwelling on the imperfections.

How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?

The most helpful thing I think I can do is be totally available to anyone who’s been newly diagnosed. I try to be as open and honest as I can to prepare them for what’s to come. Most importantly, I try to empower them and give them the confidence that they’ll come out of this stronger than they could have ever imagined. That this is just a blimp in the road and won’t define them, unless they let it. I encourage them to be kind to themselves, but also push themselves to stay active to accelerate their path to recovery.

Through my own experience, I also learned firsthand what patients struggle with the most — and not just cancer patients, any patient dealing with an acute health crisis or looking for support to optimize their health. I founded The Lanby alongside my co-founder, Tandice, because we felt primary care needed to be overhauled. We drew lessons from our own patient journeys to create a service that was patient-centric and comprehensive. The Lanby has just opened in New York City as the first patient-developed primary care practice with an integrative approach to health. Tandice and I believe The Lanby is leading primary care into the 21st century and we couldn’t be more proud watching our vision come to life.

What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?

I think the biggest misconception about chemo is that you’re basically bed-ridden the whole time. I definitely experienced all of the well-known symptoms (i.e. nausea & fatigue) in the first few days following my treatments, but I made a conscious effort every day to go for a walk even if it was just around the block to get my blood circulating and boost my energy. Starting on Day 5, I felt myself again and I would take complete advantage by going on runs in the park, having dinner with friends, whatever I wanted.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Have a positive attitude: anyone who asks “why me?” is doomed. There will always be someone who’s been dealt a worse hand than you. Be grateful for what you do have and focus your energy on getting healthy.
  2. Laughing heals, crying paralyzes: surround yourself with people who will make you laugh and keep you light. You don’t need anyone’s pity, you need a good laugh.
  3. Be kind to yourself: It’s okay to have days where you let yourself be sad. As my friend would tell me, wallowing is part of the healing process. If you’re sad, accept it, treat yourself to some ice cream, and re-start tomorrow.
  4. Stay active and hydrated: push yourself to go on a short walk every day — the increased circulation will dramatically speed up your recovery post treatment. A very dear family friend told me early on that staying hydrated was the most important chemo-hack, and he was right. On the days surrounding treatment, you want to make sure you’re drinking at least 2–3L of water/day to make sure the toxins don’t stay in your bladder for too long, which can cause irritation.
  5. Medicinal marijuana was the only thing that alleviated my nausea, masked my joint pain, and gave me the appetite I needed to avoid losing too much weight. I’m not sure to what extent doctors are recommending it today, but based on my experience, I believe it should be in every cancer patient’s care package.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

In a nutshell, The Lanby. By providing people with better support and guidance, I hope to inspire others to treat their bodies with the utmost respect and kindness. We only get one, so we better take care of it and do whatever we can to minimize its aging. Yes, there’s a lot in life we can’t control, but there’s so much we can do to improve our odds and extend our youth. I want to give people the resources they need to be the healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilled versions of themselves.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Before we started hiring, I read Reed Hastings’ No Rules Rules book and became obsessed with his philosophy around maximizing talent density, which allows organizations to rid themselves of rules, thereby fostering a culture of innovation and continuous growth. If I could have a private lunch with anyone right now, it would be Reed. I’d love to pick his brain as we think about setting the tone for The Lanby and creating a culture that attracts and retains the best talent in healthcare.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Sign up for our newsletter on our website ( and follow us on Instagram @the.lanby

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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