Health Watch - Breast Cancer - Part Two

Being the mother of a six year old and working full time is tough enough. But, if you throw breast cancer into the mix it's enough to send some people over the edge. But one local woman is refusing to give in.

She's in the middle of the fight of her life and she says she'll win. Not just for her, but for her daughter.

6 months ago Tammi Kirkland heard those three words that strikes fear in anyone's heart – “You have cancer.”

"There was a part of me that already knew, but hearing those words, you are never prepared, you are never prepared for it."

Tammi found the lump during a self breast exam. A trip to the doctor confirmed her fear.

“And then from the point you hear you have cancer, then you don't hear anything else that's the only thing you focus in on."

After the initial shock, denial set in.

“It was a kick in the chest, and I was like not me... that's one of the first things you say..not me. I take care of myself, how could this be.”

She had surgery back in April and soon after started chemotherapy.

"I opted for lumpectomy and reconstruction and a breast reduction in both breasts. Every 21 days I have an aggressive chemo and weekly I have a non-aggressive chemo.

Those weekly treatments will last for a year. But Tammi is nearing her last aggressive chemo treatment.

“It's hard when you're going through it. The aggressive chemo is very difficult but it only lasts for 7 to 10 days. And then you get your strength back and start getting your appetite back and then you start all over."

She says the side effects are the worst part of the experience.

"When you're going through the side effects you say to yourself, this is the worst. This has got to be the worst of it all and then the next side affect comes into play and then you feel like it's the worst. But losing the hair was the most traumatic. I cried for days until it finally came out --once it all came out I said this is the way it's going to be at least for the next 6 months. I'm going to get through this --it's only temporary."

Tammi's roller coaster of emotions hasn't come to a complete stop but she's working through it day by day.

"I knew my attitude, a positive attitude would be key because having a negative attitude and going into a depression it's much worse, it probably could lead to death. I didn't want to go through it that way and I honestly wanted to be an advocate for what I am going through, I wanted to be able to tell others.”

Despite the ups and downs, Tammi says she has never felt alone in her fight. In fact she feels she has two families helping her through.

"When you start going through treatment and you get into your regular chemo group you see so many people that are going through all types of cancer, some terminal, some non terminal. it's kind of like a sorority. I think I'm on every prayer list in every church in Bay County probably throughout the nation."

Tammi says she can't stress enough the importance of self breast exam every month...it's simple.
You can do it while you're taking a shower. If you're not sure what you're looking for talk it over with your doctor.


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