I was described as a walking miracle
4th May 2022
It was after the birth of her first child at only age 21 when Tamron learned she had peritoneal mesothelioma – a rare but deadly type of cancer. After being told she might only have a year to live, 15 years on Tamron wants to inspire others with hope.
“When the doctor told me that I had cancer, I looked at my husband and then my mum. Their facial expressions were like somebody had just taken the life out of them. The hospital wanted me to stay overnight but I wanted to go home and see my son. That's all I was thinking about.”
I met my husband at college in North Carolina and I was 21 when we found out that we were going to have a baby. I was really sick during my pregnancy – I had a lot of stomach pain, and my haemoglobin was low. No matter how many iron pills I took, it wasn’t getting better.
During an appointment to find out the sex of our baby, the ultrasound technician kept moving around a certain spot – it made me think, ‘are there two in there?’. After being told the exciting news that we were having a boy, the technician said that she saw something and referred me to another part of the hospital to check it out. During an examination, I was told that I had a fibroid tumour - I didn't know what this was, and I Googled it.
“The staff were calm and said as I was a young woman, I didn’t have to worry about anything, and they would keep an eye on it.”
Our gorgeous son Caleb was born on January the 21st 2007, and thankfully he was healthy and happy. The hospital was going to keep an eye on the tumour and I was prescribed birth control as that could help shrink it.
Unfortunately, at a repeat ultrasound we discovered my tumour was getting larger, almost the size of a golf ball. I had a laparoscopy to remove it. After surgery - I remember this day like it was yesterday - I was in the recovery room with my husband, my mum, and my aunt when I was told I had peritoneal mesothelioma; a type of cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen.
“All I heard was cancer during that moment. I couldn’t process it.”
I found a doctor who specialised in this type of cancer, and when we met it felt like I had hope. When he told me about this surgery, and that I would need hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy alongside it, it just went over my head. I didn’t think about it properly until the day of surgery.
I was the youngest person that he performed the surgery on, and during it, they removed the tumour, alongside a large portion of the lining of my stomach. I was told to be grateful for the one child I had because I wouldn't be able to have any more children.
“So I proved my doctor wrong - I not only had another child two years after the surgery, but I’ve had a further two more! He calls me his miracle patient!”
I remember going to my post-op visit and my doctor saying how well I had done, and that the cancer was gone. Five years after my surgery, I was described as a walking miracle as the five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is just 10%. More often than not, this kind of cancer is found in people who have been exposed to asbestos for long periods in their life. I may not have been your typical peritoneal mesothelioma patient, and that’s OK. Remember the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because you never know!
I'm thankful that 15 years after my diagnosis there has been more research into mesothelioma, as well as advances in surgery, making it available to more people because, believe it or not, people are still getting diagnosed with this type of cancer. That’s why it’s so important for me to share my story and support charities, like Worldwide Cancer Research, who strive to start cures for cancer.
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