Breast cancer survivor shares story, supports others

She was diagnosed when she was 36

Tamika Herbert helps organize the Komen Breast Cancer Issues Conference, which was on March 11 in Portland. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Major advances in research are giving people with breast cancer hope that one day, sooner than later, there will be a cure.

Tamika Herbert shared her take on where things stand and what it takes to make it through the experience.

She moved out to the Northwest on her own for a job 3 years ago. It wasn’t long after that she was hit with the news.

“No family here, so it was all work,” Herbert said. “And the first year I was here, I was diagnosed at 36 years young.”

Herbert fought back from her diagnoses and now cherishes the relationships she made in the process. Now she helps organize the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Issues Conference, a gathering of survivors and the industry’s leading experts.

“This is not something we should have to take on our own, we all need somebody to be able to understand and comprehend going through something like this, the big c-word,” Herbert said.

Dr. Lisa Newman, director of the breast oncology program for the Henry Ford Health System and a leading researcher into the genetics of breast cancer, sorts through the markers that predispose someone to getting the disease.

Experts like Newman are looking at the global diversity of breast cancer, why the survival rate for some races and ethnicities is better than others and she cautions men and women to be aware of the signs.

“Mammograms are great for early detection of breast cancer but mammograms are not perfect,” Newman said. “So if you develop a new lump in your breast, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, or if you have a bloody nipple discharge, dangerous signs of breast cancer such as inflammatory changes on the breast — those should all prompt medical attention efficiently.”