At the age 31, Tammy was doing a breast self-exam when she found a lump. Could it be? She was “only 31” and on top of the world with a management job at a major high-tech company. She was single, attractive and in great physical shape.
But as Tammy reports “I didn’t second-guess my body. When I knew something felt wrong, I immediately took action and showed up at my doctor’s doorstep.” A mammogram did not show the lump but she knew something wasn’t right. Her persistence led to a biopsy and the removal of not one, but two breast cancer tumors. She underwent a couple of surgeries and treatments to fight the disease and was declared cancer free.
Tammy’s mother is also a survivor having fought breast cancer two years before Tammy. With this new family history, Tammy was told that she should have her first baseline mammogram by age 35. She later said “If I had waited until 35, I don’t think I would be here right now.” A breast self-exam likely saved her life.
Tammy is passionate about sharing the lessons she learned from her experiences with both healthy young adults and cancer patients. She wants healthy young adults and teens to know that awareness and taking the time to check yourself can save your life. Tammy and her mom do not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 (breast cancer gene) mutation. The fact that they got breast cancer is seemingly random. At the end of the day, we have no way of knowing who will get cancer and who won’t. Awareness of your normal health and being able to recognize changes that should be checked can save your life.
To those who are newly diagnosed or battling cancer she offers this: “A lot of times, when people are diagnosed with cancer, they want to turn it over to the doctors and say, ‘You tell me what to do. You’re the expert.’ Doctors can guide you, but you have to be your own advocate. You have to be in the driver’s seat and educate yourself around what’s the best path for you, whether surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. Make your decision. Stick to the plan. Stay positive and you’ll get through it.”
- lump found on self-exam