Fighting cancer with smile

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
Sometimes breast cancer comes unexpected - no family history, no medical predisposition, no prolonged exposure to harmful environments, and at a young age.

Just like that, Master Sgt. Tammie Davis, non-commissioned officer in charge of equipment accountability office with the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron, found herself diagnosed with stage three Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. IDC comprises approximately 80 percent of all cases of breast cancer.

"I was deployed to Al Udeid in April, I was there for about two months and I was working out and I felt a lump - it was that big," recalled Sergeant Davis. "I went to the doctors the next day and they air-evac-ed me to Landstuhl, Germany, and that's where they did the biopsy and confirmed that it was breast cancer. It was very shocking. When they told me in Landstuhl, I was there by myself."

She stayed in Germany for approximately eight days, undergoing mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. Finally, on the Fourth of July weekend she was sent back to Nevada.

Here, in a matter of seven days, she had appointments in a general surgery clinic and with the oncologist, got her port surgery (installation of a port through which chemo-therapy is administered), and her first chemo-treatment.

Sergeant Davis learned that her cancer was estrogen-driven, which made it aggressive, but very responsive to treatment. At the time of discovery, her tumor measured 5 centimeters, - too big for surgery. But now, with chemo and estrogen-blocking treatments, it's receding and she is getting ready to have a mastectomy in the beginning of December. Her goal and hope is to be cancer-free by Christmas.

After the surgery, more chemo and radiation treatment will follow and in July, Sergeant Davis should be ready for reconstructive surgery. Her children are receiving counseling at Kids Konnected, and that is helping them to adjust with the situation.

With all this still ahead of her, Sergeant Davis says it's important to take it all one step at a time. "When you reach one goal, move on to the next one, as a stepping stone. Otherwise, if you try to do it all at once, the stress will be too overwhelming. Make sure you read up on stuff - not everything people tell you is true, so follow up on it. And you have to stay positive. Positive attitude is a must."

Mother of three and married to another active duty member, she still finds the strength to come to work most days. Doing things with her friends and family help her get through these trying times and both her and her husband's colleagues have been very supportive, she said.

Sergeant Davis, who just turned 37 in April, spoke of importance of self-examinations. "First, I don't think we should wait until we're 40 to get the mammograms, we should start at least at 35. And if people would actually do the self examinations! My Cancer was fast growing, so if I had my annual mammogram they still might have not found it, but had I known that younger people get it... you don't ever hear about it until you have it."

Looking at a brighter side, Sergeant Davis said she believes she got her Cancer for a reason. "I want to teach other people. To tell them - 'You'll get through it.' There are so many more options today. Support, - if I can help one person and then that person will help another person, you could affect hundreds of people this way."