Tamara Lopata: "Participating in a clinical trial was a way to take back my power. I felt like being on a clinical trial put me in control."
Tamara was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 47th birthday. “Just a few months before I found the lump, I had a feeling something was going to change in my life. Of course, I didn’t expect a diagnosis of breast cancer! I had no family history of the disease and I kept up with my annual mammograms. But, when I found this lump I knew it was something different.”
According to Tamara, her team of doctors moved very quickly. Dr. Jayanthi Srinivasiah, of Georgia Cancer Specialists who is Tamara’s medical oncologist says, “Tamara was an ideal candidate for a clinical trial. She was enthusiastic about participating from the very beginning.”
Tamara and her husband were pleased that the team of doctors from DeKalb Medical including surgeon Dr. John Kennedy and radiation oncologist Dr. David Holladay, met with them personally to review treatment options. “We agreed that the clinical trial was the best approach for me,” states Tamara, “and Emily, the navigator, held my hand throughout the process.”
“Participating in a clinical trial was a way to take back my power. I felt like being on a clinical trial put me in control. The trial gave me a chance to thank all the women before me who were on trials and to help other women who would have breast cancer in the future.”
“Actually, we learned pretty quickly that the chemo I was given was effective – the size of the tumor decreased by about half before I had the surgery. Unfortunately, losing my hair was worse than the chemo! But I had a beautiful wig and went on with my life as a mom of two kids who were only 6 and 12.”
According to Tamara, she learned a lot through her experience with cancer. Tamara says she had to accept help from friends, co-workers and family who brought food and picked up the kids from school.
“One of the big surprises was that blogging was part of the healing process for me,” she says. “Before I started blogging I felt like my light was being extinguished by the cancer; but, after I began telling my own story, getting positive feedback online and ending each post with a positive thought, my light began to come back,” she says with a big smile.
Tamara’s confidence grew as her treatment progressed. She gives credit to “Dr. Jay” and the team at Georgia Cancer Specialists and DeKalb Medical for their compassion and the excellent care. “With their help, I began to feel that I could get through the treatment. The clinical trial and the blogging put power back in my hands. If you think cancer is in control, all hope is lost. My advice to cancer patients is to put yourself in control.”
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