Fox 17 Morning Mix with Dr. Diana Bitner

Breast cancer is the third most common cancer in women. While taking steps to detect breast cancer seem bothersome and scary, these precautions could save lives. The earlier patients are diagnosed, the better chances of that person becoming cancer-free.

Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized menopause specialist from Spectrum Health, brought along her patient, Tammy, who has struggled with breast cancer and shares her experience with the screening process, treatment, and other struggles she faced on her journey.

To read more about Tammy’s story, check out Dr. Bitner’s blog.

 

Addressing The Silence And Moving Forward

Would you believe me if I told you that before cancer, I used to be the shyest most reserved person you had ever met, and I would have done anything to avoid talking about my own feelings, personal thoughts, or struggles?

2 years ago, Cancer was NOT even on my radar. In fact, Cancer was something that I thought happened to other people, not something that I thought would ever happen to me… Until it did.

As many of you know I found the lump myself, but not because I was doing a self breast exam. I found it because I had been experiencing really sharp shooting pains in my chest pains for at least 6 months. When the pain was bad I would push the palm of my hand up against my chest. That’s how I found the lump. I didn’t tell anyone about it for a few weeks, but my mind was filling with fear and all I could think about was the fact that cancer could take me from my family. After doing a lot of research I realized that I had to tell my husband….. and I had to make the call. I saw my OBGYN first. She said that based on my age alone most doctors would recommend watching it for 6 months, but she said she wasn’t going to take any chances with me because she had a family history of breast cancer. She sent me for a mammogram, an ultrasound and Biopsy right away to rule out cancer. After two mammograms, I was sent to have an ultrasound. My technician was about midway through the scan when she said she had to talk to the radiologist. She tried desperately to make it seem like a routine part of the process, but I was starting to see realize what was happening. She was gone for at least 20 minutes so I had a lot of time to let my mind wander but I was oddly no longer thinking all the scary cancer thoughts, instead my mind was racing with moments from my life that made me feel like that exact moment was all part of a bigger plan for me.

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Breast Cancer Campaign Teaser

Here’s the first official sneak peek of the breast cancer campaign that I have had in the works over the past few months. This is just a tease, but I promise you there is more to come. Next to my family, this project really has been my driving force over the past year because it has given me something positive to focus on when I needed the most. It may have started with an idea that was really born in my mind about 20 years ago, but it grew into something much bigger when I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and although it started with me, it really has become a community effort in bringing this little vision of mine together. I could not be more excited to get it out there for all of you to see.
 
Everyone who has been involved with this project has donated their time, their talents, and their services to help me bring this idea to life. I would like to thank Kevin from Rhino Media for jumping in head first and offering his team to take this crazy project on without a second thought, but I would also like to very much thank Brooke and Dan who are the cinematographers from Rhino Media in Kalamazoo who been capturing footage of this project and of me for the past few months. Dan has brought a lot of talent and expertise to the table and Brooke has really been a very vital part of this whole process and really has been putting so much of her own heart and soul into this project as well…. Which I love! She has not only accepted my crazy type A-side side with a smile, but she also stuck with me, and has been tirelessly editing and putting this video and teaser video together for a few months now.
 
I would also like to thank, Amy, Ingrid, Casemiya, and Sara for graciously stepping out of their comfort zones and joining me in this effort to raise awareness in addition to thanking all the vendors:
Sam from Shutter Sam Photography, Cassie from White Dress Events, Adrienne and Megan from Pure Salon, Amber from I Do Signs, Skeeter from Wasserman’s Flowers, Jenn from Modern Day Floral and Events, Jenn from Sip Organic Juice Bar, Justin from Grand Rapids Finale, Margaret from Anything Goes Catering, Jason from The Cakabakery, and Nancy from Harboufront Grand Hall. All of these amazing people/companies jumped on board without a second thought, for a cause the is very near and dear to my heart. I cannot express how thankful I am to have had such an amazing team of vendors behind me. This project really wouldn’t have been possible without all of them.
 
This project is really in it’s infancy, but it will be evolving so much over the new few weeks, so stay tuned as we inch closer to an official launch.
 
#passionatedistractions #mypersonalpinktime #breastcancercampaign #ForgottenFighters

National Cancer Survivor’s Day

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15 months ago now I was initiated into a very elite group that I have never aspired to be a member of, but I proudly join all cancer survivors on this National Cancer Survivor’s Day, by honoring those who have lost their battle, by encouraging those who are still fighting, and by celebrating those who are wining their battles with the awful “C”.

I was honored to have Spectrum Health Beat write a story on my journey with breast cancer and the oncologist who has guided me through this cancer jungle.

Sharing and Teaching Round 2

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When my Occupational Therapist asked me to let her do a live demonstration or therapy session on my cording during a presentation on Post Mastectomy Cording and Lymphedema that she was giving the GVSU graduating OT students this past December, I really didn’t know what to expect…  or should I say; I didn’t make time to over-think what was about to happen as I often do. Instead, I kept my promise to allow this journey with breast cancer, to take me where I was meant to go and I accepted the invitation to share some of the real struggles that come from breast cancer with young students who will indeed be in the position to help women like me in the future. Although I walked into the lecture hall not knowing what to expect, I was completely in the moment and did exactly what felt right. I shared not only a bit of my story, and the struggles I am still facing post mastectomy/reconstructive surgeries, but I also bared all and showed my real lasting breast cancer battle scars and a glimpse into some of the drastic physical effects of breast cancer and how that impacts or  limits aspects of your everyday life after breast cancer. I know I have said this many times before, but before my diagnosis I would have never shared these details with even my closest friends let alone a group of students I have never meant, but this year has opened me up in ways that I cannot explain. My own personal insecurities now fall second to my passion to make a difference and turn my crazy year into some type of positive. So far, following my my gut impulse and most importantly following my heart in the moment, has not let me down this year and this day was no different. Every student in the room had compassion, was engaged, and most of all every student was there in the moment with me. I was at ease, and I felt safe, but most of all, I felt like in that exact moment, I had the ability to give each and every student a real look at what a young woman with breast cancer really face, even the things that nobody really ever talks about, and I had the ability to help my amazing occupational therapist Amy teach these students first hand, so that one day when a woman dealing with all the physical struggles that come from breast cancer is sitting in their office, they will be able to better help them with a better understanding of their struggles. Although both my husband and I were both shocked at how much I actually shared, there was no regret. I walked out of that classroom feeling grateful that Amy asked me to be a part of her presentation, but also feeling like being there that day, was in a way fulfilling one of the purposes that has been laid before me.

_DSC3485 copy_1140That purpose got a little greater, a month or so back. A few occupational therapy students from SVSU in Saginaw, MI happened to see Grand Valley’s post about the presentation that Amy and I give on Facebook and they contacted me right away to see if both Amy and I would be willing to do a very similar presentation for their class as well. Originally they wanted us to be a part of a conference that involved, professionals, students, faculty, patients, and caregivers, however the dates just didn’t align on our end so we ended up doing a presentation one a Friday afternoon after their classes had let out. This time around, I knew what to expect, I knew that I would be talking and sharing with these students and I knew that there was a pretty great potential that I would again open myself up and bare my scars…. So I took the time to over-think it and I was nervous, but talking with my occupational therapist on the 2 hour drive to Saginaw helped so much. To our surprise there was no professor or instructor present that Friday, and no one was requiring that these students  were present for our presentation. In fact, they  arranged this lecture on their own time, because they wanted to be there, they wanted to meet the two of us, and most importantly they wanted to learn from us.

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Realizing that, put my mind at ease right away. As I sat on the table and listened to Amy give her breast cancer background and her post mastectomy cording intro, I realized that again I was right where I was meant to be. My OT Amy, is quite amazing herself and also happens to be a young, two-time breast cancer survivor herself, so she comes with expertise from both a professional and a personal level. She explained what happens to a woman’s body during and after breast cancer, and breast surgery, and she talked about the struggles that we breast cancer warriors face every single day.  Each and every student was hanging on every single word. I found myself taking in all that she was saying and in a sense educating myself  “on the other side of my breast care”. That was until she got the the part where she explained that typically, post mastectomy cording takes about 4-6 weeks to break up, and that it usually gets better, but that I was her  special case, because my cording is very pesky and complicated in that it keeps returning with a vengeance thus proving that I am again that .01% that broke the mold. Oddly this surprised me. Amy then worked my cording in front of the class to show how she stretches, pulls, and even tries to break the cords that restrict the movement in my shoulder and arm. Let’s just say she didn’t hold back, so it was at times hard to hide the pain. OK it was quite obvious that it was painful….  but I did my best to smile through it. When it came time for me to share the real battle scares, the nerves had settled and it just felt right. Honestly if felt very much like an intimate conversation with a somewhat large group of people, if that is at all possible. The students were again, quite respectful, engaged, and almost captivated at what both Amy and I had to say, which meant we again walked out with no regrets. I feel so honored that I was able to be a part of Amy’s presentation and again I feel very honored that I was able give the students from SVSU a first hand look at what one of their future patients might be facing.
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#sharingandteaching #mypersonalpinktime #SVSUotprogram

Full surgical update

surgery_1140Surgery itself has never caused me any anxiety for some reason, however I was a little nervous going into this last surgery. Not nervous to be put under again or even to add more surgical trauma to my ever growing list, but I was nervous to wake up and have to go through the painful recovery that I knew I would be facing being because I had almost the exact surgery a few months back. I knew that I would struggle to even hold my own weight in the days immediately following my surgery, I knew it would take months to heal the painful bruising and incision sites and that I wouldn’t be able to hold or really play with Corryn, and most of all I knew that it would again set my body back in the overall cancer recovery department.
surgery2_1140Like usual, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before surgery because my mind had gone into busy nesting mom-mode and was very much preparing to be physically down for a awhile, but as usual meeting my amazing photographer/friend Sam at the hospital, very much distracted me and made those surgical prep hours fly by. In fact, there were a few moments where I had actually even forgotten why I was at the hospital all together which is pretty amazing. We also had my mom with us as well as our new friend Brooke, who was there capturing video for a project I have in the works, so I could even go as far as saying that this time, was “fun”. Before I knew it I was removing my healing and protection jade necklace, and they were connecting all the tubes and wires and wheeling me off to surgery. Before going into surgery, my amazing plastic surgeon had laid out her plan for me, which included cutting out some irritated scar tissue that had formed around my chemotherapy port site incision as well as injecting some steroids into the site to keep the irritation from returning, the removal of my left tissue expander, the placement of my left breast implant, phase one of my left nipple reconstruction, fat and tissue grafting from my thighs again and placement into both breasts, as well as  immediate stretching of my right breast skin, and placement of my right implant; if possible. But, we had  also talked about placing a tissue expander on the right side if all of this wasn’t possible once she got into surgery. The list was long and again meant a pretty big recover,  but I knew it would be great to make all of this progress in a big combined surgery.

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We Won!

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I am happy to announce that Josh Reed and the My Personal Pink Time video took home an Eclipse Award and the honor of being named “Best Documentary” last night at the Ellipse Awards Ceremony.

I caked on the healthy looking makeup and left equipped with both nausea and pain medication, but I was not going to miss an opportunity to celebrate Josh and this honor with my hubby, and Josh’s beautiful wife Erin.

I have to be honest, I had combed through every second and every detail of my video for months so it had kind of lost its emotional effect on me. However, in that moment, I for the first time unintentionally stepped outside myself long enough to actually see the impact that the collaboration of Sam’s emotional images, my words, and Josh’s amazing video skills were having having on others.

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From Jordan

707aebf9-aa76-43ba-9a14-d9fc17de15cc“I am truly grateful that I get to call this amazing and strong young cancer warrior my wife. This year has been extremely difficult for not only her but for our family as well and through it all she still manages to keep smiling so she can show myself and our little girl that she is going to be ok.

Tammy, I am extremely grateful for everything that you are, and I am so  grateful that Corryn has a mommy as amazing as you to look up to.”

Love, Jordan

‪#‎4EveryMom‬
‪#‎Mywifeismysuperhero‬
‪#‎SusanGKomen‬

Spectrum Health Beat

From breast cancer to The Ellen DeGeneres Show By

Memorable trip to California studio caps off a courageous year of battling through surgery and treatment.

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You wouldn’t normally think a breast cancer diagnosis would lead to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

But for Tammy Myers, the signs pointing to this moment have long been in place. And not just because DeGeneres is the one person who could make her laugh during chemotherapy.

Sitting in the audience at the show in Burbank, California, on Tuesday capped off a year of battling through surgery and treatment.

Full Story here

#SpectrumHealthBeat

Special Surprise Gone Viral

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As most of you know, a very big dream of mine is coming true in a few days as I head to Burbank, CA to attend a live taping of the Ellen show with my very dear heart friend, Vicki, well a pretty special friend and former teacher who has become family over the years set out to make my trip a little more special.

She secretly enlisted the help of her niece Nicole and her friend Hannah to put a video together to send to Ellen asking her to take a Selfie with Vicki and I. Knowing that she cares about me enough to step out of her comfort zone and do something like this, means the world to me and the video alone is a very special gift. However things got a little more special today. Ok things got flat out crazy today. I can’t share a the details of what happened today, however I can share this. Fox 17 West Michigan, got wind of this my friend Alice’s video and contacted me to see if I would do an interview with them. Just like the interview back in March they were at my house with a camera crew in less then 45 minutes.

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