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October 21, 2013

Walton woman beats cancer four times

Tammy Dowell credits support, attitude with beating cancer four times

WALTON — Tammy Dowell beat cancer four times.

As a 30-year-old in 2001, she decided to get the lump she noticed on her left breast checked by a doctor. Because of her age and absence of family history with cancer, the doctor told her not to worry.

Six months later, she saw a different doctor, who gave her similar advice.

Then came a third doctor, who recommended tests.

“That needs to come out,” she recalled the doctor telling her.

The tests came back showing that the lump was cancerous. Dowell spent the following year seeing various specialists, a process that would become a small fraction of what her experience with the disease would become. She credits her family and friends’ support and her positive attitude with getting her through a battle that would span about 10 years and four parts of her body, never forcing her to call in sick to work and turning her into a more open-minded person.

Upon receiving the news, she said the only thing going through her mind was her two sons — Dylan, who at the time was 6, and Andrew, who at the time was 3.

“Buy me 10 more years,” she recalled thinking. “I just need a few more years.”

She didn’t take out any frustration on the previous doctors, saying they didn’t mean her any harm, relying on her age and lack of family history with cancer.

“Now, people are getting diagnosed so young, it’s not uncommon for people,” she said.

She was more concerned with how to get better.

And get better she did, at first anyway.

An aggressive treatment schedule began in 2002, including chemotherapy and several medications.

The port in her chest used to administer the medications was removed in 2004 after she was cancer-free for two years.

A year later, tests came back showing the cancer had turned up in the upper left lobe of her left lung. The portion was surgically removed and she started a medication regimen to prevent the cancer from spreading yet again.

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