I had the privilege of meeting Author, Speaker, Blogger and Stage IV Breast Cancer SurThrivor, Tami Boehmer at the Annie Appleseed Conference, http://www.annieappleseedproject.org and asked her if she would consider writing a weekly blog for us, as her book and blog site are inspirations for many Stage IV cancer patients feeling like they are facing a death sentence.
Today we introduce Tami. You will find her here weekly on Thursdays, inspiring and encouraging Stage IV survivors in their journey. Here is Tami’s story:
I was a few days shy of my 39th birthday when I first heard the words, “You have breast cancer.” It was caught early enough for my oncologist to tell me, “Your prognosis is excellent.” Five years later, I learned it had returned in my liver and lymph nodes in the armpit and chest. This time, I didn’t receive the rosy prognosis.
We decided to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, for a second opinion. I figured it was the one of the best cancer centers in the nation; maybe they would have some miracle treatment my local oncologist couldn’t provide. They didn’t.
At the end of our consultation with the oncologist there, I asked about my prognosis. Suddenly, she scooted her chair up so she was directly facing my husband Mike and me.
“You could live two years or twenty years, but you will die of breast cancer,” she said as she sadly looked into my eyes.
My first thought was Chrissy, my eight-year-old daughter. I had to do something to make sure I’d be there for her. I was determined to prove wrong her wrong.
It started when I decided not return to a very stressful job and started my new career: getting Tami well. I began making significant changes in my lifestyle. Exercise, prayer, visualization, and affirmations became part of my daily routine. My whole diet changed as I eliminated sugar and opted for organic produce and supplements with cancer-fighting properties.
But after a while, I started feeling depressed and as if my life had no meaning. I was accustomed to working. I had too much time on my hands, thinking about cancer. My husband and I have had careers in public relations and always dreamed of writing a book together. He suggested I write a book about my cancer journey. “How can I write about when I’m so early in the process?” I’d say.
Three months into my chemo treatments, we went on vacation with Mike’s family to a beautiful lake in Canada. On one of my daily morning walks, an idea popped into my mind. “Why not write a book about other advanced stage cancer patients and how they beat the odds?” I thought it would be therapeutic for me, and more important, help others.
I started interviewing cancer survivors from around the country. I didn’t just stick to breast cancer; the only requirement was having a grim prognosis that they overcame. I called the book, From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds. I began sharing their stories, along with resources and information for cancer survivors on my blog, www.MiracleSurvivors.com. I had a new job: creating a community of caring and sharing with others.
The process of interviewing the amazing individuals featured in this book and writing their stories has been extremely therapeutic to me. The more people I found who shared their stories with me, the more confident I became that I, too, could beat the odds. I talked with so many of these “miracle” survivors; it began to feel like they were the norm, not the exception to it. They showed me anything is possible, and there is always hope.
It’s been three years since I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. According to scans, there is still a small amount of cancer in my body. But I’m healthy, happy and whole despite what they might indicate. I am NOT my scan results or a statistic, and I am certainly not defined by cancer. I am blessed and grateful for my wonderful life.