Tamara Tate’s breast cancer journey began in July of 2016 when she was just 30-years old. As she was relaxing and watching TV in bed one night, she felt a lump. Tamara called her OB-GYN the next day, and by that Friday was having an ultrasound. After initially being told by the radiologist to watch the lump for six months, Tamara insisted on seeing a surgeon. The following week she was having a biopsy and before the end of the month, she received the call from her doctor that would change her life.
“It was Stage 2 invasive ductal, triple negative breast cancer. I had just gotten married seven months earlier. I got the call from my doctor when I was at work and left immediately for my friend’s house. My husband met me there and somehow already knew my news. He has always been the calm to my storm,” Tamara said.
Treatment soon followed and consisted of four bi-weekly AC chemo treatments followed by 12 weekly Taxol chemo treatments. In the midst of her brutal AC treatments, Tamara stopped working.
“You can have whatever attitude you want, but it’s not really up to you. My thought was if I was awake, alert and had energy, I wanted to spend time with my daughters and husband.”
Tamara also made the most of her situation by cutting her hair short and dying it pink before it fell out.
“Once I noticed it falling out, I had my friend shave it off. I also did a henna chemo crown for fun. Luckily my girls were okay with it.”
Tamara was done with chemo in December and celebrated by having pizza and milkshakes with her nurses. Initially follow-up scans showed that the chemo was working, but unfortunately by early January, she noticed that the lump was back. She had a lumpectomy on January 26th and then in February, a bilateral double mastectomy with immediate DIEP Flap reconstruction, which turned into an 11-hour surgery.
After surgery and recovery, Tamara joined a clinical trial and received four treatments of Carboplatin every few weeks. Even though she is considered cancer free, the additional treatment is to further reduce the risk of recurrence.
“I have felt in control and proactive with every step of my treatment,” Tamara said. “I’ve had care through the James and am now finishing the trial and continuing with my oncologist through OhioHealth and am grateful everyone is on the same page with my treatment.”
Throughout her journey, the presence of her husband and children were Tamara’s motivation to stay strong and keep a positive attitude.
“Aaron has always pushed me to be my best and encouraged me to succeed,” Tamara said. “He definitely inspired me to put my health first and allowed me the time I needed to heal. My children are my main inspiration: Kayleigh is 14 and Mattie is 9. These three are my reason for living. ”
As a Co-Honorary Chair for the 2017 Athens Race for the Cure, Tamara is eager to share her story with others. Despite her diagnosis, she continued to stay optimistic and turned to her family for support as she fought her battle.
“I am excited to let other they are not alone – that a triple negative diagnosis at a young age, while raising kids can be conquered. I also want to share how wonderful my experience was and let others know there is hope.”
Join Tamara in Athens on Sunday, October 15.