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Published on August 31, 2012

Tina VanDevander & Breast Cancer


Tina VanDenvander
Patient: Tina VanDenvander, Germantown, MD

Location: Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center

Service: Breast Cancer

Doctor: Joseph Haggerty, MD

Tina VanDevander of Germantown discovered she had breast cancer at age 30. With it came uncertainty, questions and fear of what was ahead.

VanDevander’s cancer journey started in March 1998, when she discovered a pea-sized nodule in her right breast while performing a self-exam. A mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy revealed it was malignant.

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View Video Transcript

My mother was a two-time breast cancer survivor. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She had always made us very self-aware of our bodies and you know always do your breast exams, because with the family history you never know when it can affect you, so I always did them. I was 30 when I was first diagnosed I can remember doing a self breast exam in the shower, no reason really why, and I felt a small pea-sized nodule in my right breast. We had just finished doing a memory stone for Nick, my son, May 25th, 1998. I can remember going into Dr. Haggerty's office in tears.

When Tina comes in you have to address what's in front of you. A 30-year-old woman who has right sided breast cancer, you try to do what you feel is appropriate at that time, thinking of a cure.

It was pretty much a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs. A young couple with a young son. All of the sudden your wife has cancer, and you start thinking about all the possibilities and how you're going to raise your son if your wife's not there to help you, and things like that. It was very scary I didn't know - all I could think of was how my son was going to get through life if his mom wasn't here.

I think about it a lot actually, like those times when you get in arguments with your parents you just have to think about it, and just need to stop this because, so what if you're arguing it could never happen and you could never of even said two words to them just think about it.

They sent me to Dr. Haggerty, recommended Dr. Haggerty, as my oncologist. I went and saw him, and he told me exactly what was going to happen, put it in words that me and my husband could understand. Had the surgery. Recooped very well, and started chemotherapy - I believe it was within a month.

Four years after I went through chemotherapy for my first battle with breast cancer I was diagnosed a second time in the opposite breast.

Four years later she developed again something she felt, she palpated her second cancer on the left side.

They were actually two masses in that breast at that time. I had several surgeries over the next fourteen months at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. They were great. The nurses took very good care of me. They even have somebody coming in asking if I wanted to go to a support group - that there are support groups available for cancer survivors if I needed, you know, any kind help like that.

I do consider Tina cancer-free. A term that I like to use in oncology is 'Any D': no evidence of disease, and that's a very strong oncology term.

I'm in a good place right now. I've been able to watch my son grow up. That's been my main goal. I'm happily married. I just did everything that I could to be there for my son.

Like what would you do without your mom when nobody else is there for you she's there. I really just can't imagine life without her.

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