Celebrating Life and Spreading Awareness in Cancer Survivorship

The story of Tamron

When I was 21 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t know that the pregnancy would be the only surprise that year, but during a routine ultrasound, a fibroid tumor was found in my abdomen. At the time, I went through my entire pregnancy not thinking much about it due to reassurance from my medical team letting me know it was nothing to be concerned about. The following year, in 2007, I safely gave birth to a beautiful baby boy I named Caleb. As precautionary measures, the fibroid tumor was watched closely by my ob-gyn; the watching and waiting turned into having surgery to remove it due to the tumor increasing in size. Just five months after giving birth, I was told that I had peritoneal mesothelioma- a rare malignant form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This type of cancer is not only rare but has a poor prognosis of 18 months.
The Pivot
From that moment on, my life changed dramatically. I was given some tough choices to make at just the tender age of 21. I could either have been overtaken by the disease or stand up and fight with my crazy faith. I chose the latter; I decided to LIVE and advocate for myself. Thanks to the efforts of my family, I received a second opinion after being under the care of an oncologist who didn’t provide me with the maintenance or help I needed and was looking for. My second opinion was my “ram in the bush” moment; he reignited the little hope I had left from my first appointment, with being only one of the handfuls of specialists who specialized in the care and treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma on the East Coast during that time. That same year, I underwent the world-renowned and breakthrough HIPEC surgery- which involves heated chemotherapy and took about 11 hours.
This situation taught me the importance of advocating for yourself and knowing how to pivot. Sometimes, we don’t want to pivot, but we must learn how to; situations will arise in our lives, causing us to go in another direction even when we don’t want to. I certainly changed the narrative, and my story is one of a kind. I am not the typical peritoneal mesothelioma patient, with the patient demographics being men in their late 60s or early 70s. With that said, I had to create my path and navigate the dark, murky waters of being diagnosed with a rare cancer.
Thriving in Survivorship
I have chosen to LIVE, and not only that, but to THRIVE no matter what the circumstances or health challenges I’ve faced. Cancer survivorship is a journey within itself, and one of my missions is to share my story, inspire others, and spread hope. Give insight into the unseen challenges of survivorship to help others who may feel lost and need encouragement. I have been cancer-free for 17 years and counting, and I will continue to advocate for myself and others within the rare disease and cancer communities. One point to ponder is that you may face challenges within your health journey, but keep the faith and know there is hope!