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When Breast Cancer Strikes, Again

Hey all, happy you’ve returned with your Eye on Strength because we have another member of our fierce family of survivors to introduce you to.

Tami Lamy who celebrated her birthday back in October (Happy Belated!) is the epitome of survival. Tami has fought breast cancer and battled through it, not once, not twice – but three times. (And we are rooting for the third time to be the last time!)

In her first go with the disease, Tami noticed a lump in her left breast by simply folding her arm. After a lumpectomy, Tami found out she had breast cancer. A lumpectomy is a surgery in which cancer, or other abnormal tissue like a tumor, is removed from the breast. Since it differs from a mastectomy which removes the entire breast, a lumpectomy is also referred to as breast-conserving surgery or a wide local excision since only part of the breast is being removed. Medical professionals may also call the procedure an excisional biopsy.

Tami took the news as many of us would and even our strongest survivors do, with a mix of despair and disbelief. “I was so devastated; it felt like the floor was ripped from right beneath me.”

Following rounds of chemotherapy and radiation Tami thought the cancer was gone for good but it wasn’t long before she realized her fight wasn’t quite over when she woke up with a stiffness and tightness in the same breast. After a visit to a breast surgeon she was diagnosed with breast cancer, again.

This time around Tami underwent a three month chemotherapy treatment plan consisting of weekly infusions but ultimately decided to have a mastectomy. We can all share in what we’re sure she was feeling two years later when she woke up and felt a little bump on the top of the same left breast. For the third time, she was soon diagnosed with breast cancer, again.

Now this may surprise many of us as most of us would think if the breast has been fully removed, well then how can breast cancer possibly return? Or even if we have undergone another form of treatment, how can it come back? Well think “ex”. Unfortunately breast cancer can be much like an ex - even when we think we removed the problem from our lives, it can be persistent, unpredictable and downright unnerving. While we typically have some choice words for such exes, in the world of breast cancer, we call it recurrent breast cancer.

When the cancer returns in the chest area of the same breast or in the mastectomy scar this is considered local recurrence. And when the cancer comes back in nearby lymph nodes it is considered regional occurrence. However, recurrence can take place in a distant area as well.

Treatment for recurrent breast cancer is case by case weighing individual factors like where the cancer has returned and which methods of treatment you have had in the past. In Tami’s case, after speaking to an oncologist she was given a pill form of chemotherapy with some but very little side effects, which as at the time we met with her for her yoga inspired photoshoot (see above) she expected to remain on the pill for the long haul.

With three matches under her belt, Tami keeps her mind and body in shape by working, and working out, at a nearby YMCA. She stays focused and leans into her breast cancer battle strength by echoing the words of Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Well Tami, from getting to know you we see there are many reasons why you were born but you can add yet another one – to inspire us! We’re honored to have you as a part of the EOTS family and thank you for sharing your story with us.

We’ll see you all next time and as a reminder if you haven’t gotten our 2017 calendar yet click here to get one now. Calendars are $20 each and $10 of your purchase will go straight to AAngelsNJ, a local breast cancer non-profit organization.

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