Mother of Four Overcomes Breast Cancer

Tami Shaw will be breast cancer-free for five years this January

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Tami Shaw, a 1992 Bellwood graduate, is not just a dental assistant, wife, and mother of four daughters; she is a fighter, and a successful one too.

“Through the whole thing, [my mom] never gave up and never stopped fighting. She was so determined to get through it to be healthy again and for the rest of us,” said Tyrone sophomore Shannon Shaw, who was ten at the time of her mom’s diagnosis.

[Cancer] makes you really think about what is important in life and to be grateful for all the blessings you have.”

— Tami Shaw

There was an alarm of concern when she discovered a lump in her breast. After that, she got a mammogram to see what the issue was.

“After I had the mammogram and ultrasound, I kinda knew then that is was cancer. I cried in the changing room and the whole way back to work. From that point on, my attitude was let’s do what I need to do to beat this,” said Tami.

Tami was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer on August 7th, 2013 at the age of 39.

In stage 3B, the tumor may be any size, and the cancer has spread to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.

She and her husband, Tim, explained to their four daughters, Sydney, Shannon, Summer, and Samantha, of how their mom was sick and how difficult it was going to be for them as a family.

“She and my dad told us about how things are going to be hard for mom because she had breast cancer and would be going through some treatments. They didn’t want us to be scared, and told us that to help mom out we should help more around the house,” said Sydney, who was 12 at the time.

Tami and Tim also told their daughters not to be scared but to support and comfort their mom through her battle. They were honest when answering questions from the girls.

Tami underwent a double mastectomy, a surgery to remove the breasts partially or completely.

I wish [people] knew how hard it is not just for the parent but also the family because you never know when something could go wrong and you are constantly thinking about if they are going to be okay while trying to handle all the other things in life too.”

— Sophomore Shannon Shaw

This was not only difficult for Tami to endure, but for her family as well.

“I wish [people] knew how hard it is not just for the parent but also the family because you never know when something could go wrong and you are constantly thinking about if they are going to be okay while trying to handle all the other things in life too,” said Shannon.

Tami received two rounds of chemo after her surgery. The first lasted four months, and the second lasted two months.

No matter what, Tami always made time for her daughters.

“Even right after coming home from Pittsburgh exhausted from a treatment, she came to my basketball game to support me,” said Sydney.

Both girls remember having family and friends bringing dinners and desserts, so their parents wouldn’t have to worry about cooking meals.

Tami still sees an oncologist every six months and has side effects from medicine she still takes.

“[Cancer] makes you really think about what is important in life and to be grateful for all the blessings you have. [It] doesn’t just affect the person who has it; it affects all those close to them. You go through so many emotions through the process and I think sometimes family members feel just as lost and helpless as the person with the cancer,” said Tami.

Along with the personal effects, Tami’s girls learned a lot during this tough time. Both Sydney and Shannon agreed that they now understand to not take their family or the little things for granted anymore.

“I realized how important family truly is to me. It made me want to be more helpful of a person and be kind to people because you never know what they or their family could be going through,” said Sydney.

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