Tamieko, a 38 year old woman, was completely caught off guard when she was diagnosed with Stage I/II breast cancer in December 2010. After two years of observing suspicious changes in her breast that appeared normal on mammograms, she requested that her attending physician do a breast biopsy.
The results shocked her and took her on an unexpected path of becoming her own patient advocate. Tamieko consulted with many physicians in the Phoenix area regarding her pre and post-operative care. She decided to complete her surgical treatment and chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Tameiko shares that her medical team at Mayo Clinic, led by Dr. Deborah Bash, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and Dr. Donald Northfelt, an oncologist, provided a supportive environment that encouraged her to ask questions to make educated decisions about her treatment options. She explains that it is important to “find a team that you have bonded with and that you trust.”
For Tameiko, gathering knowledge and being an active member with her Mayo medical team became a way for her to cope with her diagnosis and treatment. But she reiterates that being proactive may not be every patient’s way of dealing with cancer, “understand who you are and choose what coping mechanism works best for you.”