Komen Columbus Board: Meet Tammy

Everyone has their own reasons for getting involved with the Race every year. For 8-year breast cancer survivor, active volunteer, fundraiser and board member Tammy Weis, it’s keeping the women she loves the most in her life around longer.

Tammy, far right, with Komen Columbus Executive Director Katie Carter and WSYX Channel 6's Maria Durant at Condos for the Cure in 2010.
Tammy, far right, with Komen Columbus Executive Director Katie Carter and WSYX Channel 6’s Maria Durant at Condos for the Cure in 2010.

“As an almost 8-year breast cancer survivor, there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful. Grateful for the wonderful care I had access to here in Central Ohio. Grateful my cancer was found early and that I had, for once in my life, been faithful about my screening. Grateful that I was financially able to manage my illness without it making a huge negative impact on me and my family. Grateful that I had an education as an RN and the knowledge needed to navigate a challenging healthcare quagmire. Grateful every day that I am still here, still fighting and healthy.

When I began volunteering for Komen Columbus, I found out that my situation was more rare than normal. Many women don’t have the knowledge they need, or the financial capability they will need, or the support system they will need to navigate the breast cancer process. So many women I talked to had never been screened – largely out of fear of what that diagnosis would do to their lives – not their physical lives but their everyday lives with their families- financially, emotionally and physically.

Tammy crossing the finish line at the Race for the Cure in 2012.
Tammy crossing the finish line at the Race for the Cure in 2012.

Ohio has a long way to go as well. We are 32nd in incidence of breast cancer, but 4th in mortality. LESS women get breast cancer here BUT, MORE WOMEN DIE FROM IT. And that was just unacceptable to me. Knowing that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime is a staggering number in my mind. I know way too many women I want around for a long, long time – nieces, sisters, friends, coworkers, co-workers’ wives. I knew I had to find a way to make an impact on these numbers. But what can one girl do?

Well, you can do something I told myself. The first year I began to really fundraise for the Race, I sent out a few emails to people I knew loved me, supported me and had the money that they could easily donate something. I also made the emails personal and told them why I was doing it. And guess what – the money came in. So the next year it was more people and more emails. Today, I’ve graduated to the point of “no shame” where I will ask anyone I have casually met for money! (Not really, but close.) They can always just ignore the request so there’s no reason to feel badly about it. With not a lot of arm twisting, bugging or asking people for money you know they can’t afford, I have managed to raise well over $2,000 every year for the last eight years.

Start by making yourself a list of people from your address book that you know well enough to send a request to. The website will give you templates to help with the first one. Remind them that every dollar matters and it doesn’t need to be a large donation. Remind them its tax deductible – who doesn’t need a deduction? Remind them why. EVERYONE is motivated to act by their own “why” and telling them yours may just be the thing that energizes them to act. My why is easy. I want to end breast cancer. Forever. I’m tired of it. I hate it. I don’t want to hear one more person diagnosed with it or lose one more great woman to it. I want grants to fund great programs. I want grants for research. Asking is hard but I suck it up and ask! So can you!”

Tammy has already raised $700 and is well on her way to raising her goal of $2,000. Join her on Race day.

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