My name is Tammie Jones. I am 39 years old and am a mammography and x-ray technologist. I tell you this because I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year at the age of 38. (the doctor said I probably had it for a couple of years.) I fell into the too young category in my own mind. I accidentally found a lump in my right breast one evening while lying in bed. I decided to watch the lump assuming it was a cyst. Because of course I am too young . (Basically it came down to denial. I help women every day sit through the good news and the bad regardless of their age. ) So here I am watching my lump. Then one day, a month or so later, as I am watching the lump I notice dimpling in a different area of the same breast. Well I happen to be fortunate because I am a mammographer that I had a mammogram that morning and a biopsy that afternoon but I knew and so did my co workers that it was cancer. I will never forget the technologist and Radiologist face when the mass showed up on the Ultrasound screen. My friend tried not to cry and my Radiologist tried to hold his composer and remain professional. The next day he confirmed the cancer and told me what type and let me sit in his office for as long as my husband and I wanted. Then my nurse friend Gina came and sat with me outside of the hospital where we both work and just sat and held my hand and talked .
The next thing I knew my surgeon came down from the O.R. between his cases and told me when my appointment with him was and discussed some of the options. I had already decided on a mastectomy. I knew in my heart that I had at least 2 cancers in that breast and they were ductal and to me the ducts go throughout the breast. Also it was invasive so that tells me the little guys are traveling and I did not want to take chances.
April 28, 2004 I had my right breast removed, Dr Lurie came in and told me that 4 out of 9 lymph nodes were positive for cancer and that there were actually 3 cancer sites in the breast.
The next step was Chemotherapy and Dr Alali did the TAC chemo. Doing the 3 medicines (I call them poisons) every 21 days for 4 times. I wanted to just get it done. My hair had always been my source of vanity. Very thick and long, highlights, ect . Well my sister invited my husband and I to Mendocino for a day or two and that is when I lost my hair. The poor girl couldn't handle it so we put lots of hairspray on whatever was left and put a hat on. When we got home I let the majority of it fall out and then my husband shaved the few hairs that were left. The chemo wasn't the greatest but I did pretty good after the first one and adjustments were done with the benadryl. Dr. Alali and his staff were wonderful.
Then I had radiation. (Because I had 3 tumors and more than 3 lymph nodes were involved). I didn't have a problem with the radiation. I felt great. Just the drive to Sacramento at 8 am was rough haha . The staff at RAS (inside Mercy General) were absolutely the most amazing people I have ever come across. Even the girl that served me my non-fat mocha with whip was incredible.
I then had the tram flap reconstruction which turned out good. I am still undergoing that. My next surgery will be in a month or so. The hard way to get a flat stomach.
I think the most amazing thing in my whole experience so far is that the co-workers, neighbors and friends that come to support you and your family are the best gift of all. I am back to work and doing the mammograms and diagnostics. I share my story to a few ladies. Ones that I think want to hear it. It will be one year next month and I am happy to be alive and realize that each day is a gift.
Learn as if you were to live forever