Survivor: Breast most cancers additionally takes a toll in your thoughts | Breast Most cancers

NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania – Tammie Dilla’s desire is to be a light for breast cancer patients.

But first she has to escape the shadow that the disease still casts over her.

After surgery, radiation and 27 chemotherapy sessions, the 56-year-old resident of Aliquippa found

Support from the Club Hope Foundation in Ellwood City and its founder, Cara Atkinson, has been declared cancer free.

However, the experience continues to haunt them.

“You’re never the same person again,” she said. “When you have breast cancer or when you go back to the doctor, everything looks like a monster to you. That’s why it’s amazing when you look at her (Atkinskon, also a cancer survivor) and the things she’s doing and give and do her non-stop.

How does she do it? I don’t want to be near a chemo room anytime soon.

“God will guide me and I will touch people’s hearts because it has been a rocky road for me,” continued Dilla. “Thank goodness I survived because it’s not just the medical part, it’s the mental part. You can’t even imagine the little things that you have to deal with. “

In fact, Dilla’s first reaction to her diagnosis was not to deal with it at all.


On a holiday – November 30, 2019, her son’s birthday – Dilla learned that she had breast cancer.

“I think I knew because I was in a lot of pain,” said the single mother. “But you don’t want to believe that. People tell you, “Cancer doesn’t hurt; you’re okay.’ I canceled two mammograms. There’s nothing wrong with me. “

However, when the pain got worse, came on more frequently, and lasted longer, Dilla eventually opted for mammography. It showed a tumor in her chest.

“My tumor was small but aggressive; it had already entered my lymph nodes, ”said Dilla. “Now it’s a decision. You have your port, you have an appointment for your port, you have a day to start chemo. “

However, taking into account her age and the fact that her children were all adults, Dilla decided to go her own way.

“Everyone obeys the rules,” she said. “Whatever your doctor says, you’re going to do it because you want to live. But my brain has mentally shut down and shut down.

“I’ve seen people with chemo. You won’t do that to me. I’m 54 years old, my children have grown up – I’ve lived my life. I am fine. I’ll live it the best I can, and whatever happens, happens. “

Only after a subsequent visit to her oncologist did she revise her decision.

“She said, ‘Tammie, listen. You have an 85 percent chance of beating that, ‘”Dilla recalled. “‘We just need you to show up and complain and I’ll save your life.’

“Then it suddenly hit me, and thank God it is, because I wouldn’t be here to tell you this story if I hadn’t.”


The next phase began with surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. And although she had agreed to go that route, Dilla still went her own way.

“Do you know how everyone with chemo loses weight? I’ve gained 27 pounds, ”she said. “The poor thing next to me was losing 10 pounds a week. She asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘I’m not going home to go to bed. I am not lying there. I’ll eat. I don’t care if I’m not even hungry, I’ll eat. “

And she did, going to a restaurant after every chemo session. It may not have cared about the cancer, but she credits it for keeping her spirit going, especially when she started losing her hair.

“I swear to God it saved my life, really,” she said, “because I didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with what I was going through. So I decided to do it differently. “


When the cancer emerged, Dilla was working full time at the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa for 20 years. The chemotherapy forced her to cut back to just three days a week over a period of six months.

“Nobody tells you that,” she said. “All of these co-payments – $ 120 every time you come in every week – they want upfront. They don’t care that you are fighting for your life.

“I remember telling my doctor, ‘I work part time, I live alone, my son is studying. What should I tell him, ‘I can’t help you anymore?’ He (her son) got it and got a job, but I’m still a single mother trying to pay all the co-payments. I can’t even fight for my life anymore because I can’t afford it. “

Critical help came from Atkinson’s Club Hope Foundation, which provided them with grocery and fuel cards.

“Cara, I wouldn’t have had any gasoline in my car to come for treatment if it hadn’t been for her,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have eaten at all this month. If you want to reach your friends, people would certainly help me, but you don’t want that. “


Dilla’s son eventually graduated from Penn State and is now a geologist in Kentucky.

“He had a hard time too,” said Dilla. “Imagine your sophomore year of college and you find out your mother has breast cancer and all of the third year I fight it. I couldn’t enjoy his college trip with him and then there was COVID so I really can’t even see him now. “

Dilla also has a married daughter and two grandchildren, ages 11 and 4.

Most importantly, she has a new perspective on the fight against cancer. While she’s still trying to shake off the emotional aftermath, she has advice for anyone whose first response to a diagnosis – like her own – is not to fight back against the disease.

“First I would let them know that this feeling and understanding is definitely real; there you are right now, “she said. “But you can’t stay there. You have to overcome that, and people do it in their own way, mentally. My oncologist told me all I had to do was show up and complain, and that was what got my brain crazy.

“The trauma of thinking that you are going to die and you will not make it, I will not see my children, I will not see my grandchildren. Everything shows up. Then you have to get spiritual too. There’s a part of where God has to take your hand. You can’t do it alone. “

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