‘I'm so happy to be alive every day’: Mother diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer helps others survive
A mother of two who has metastatic breast cancer, which is considered terminal, refuses to give up on life and is helping others survive.
“My name is Tami Eagle Bowling. I am a mom and a metastatic breast cancer advocate.”
Bowling, who lives in Scotch Plains, was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer at the age of 41. No lumps, she led a healthy lifestyle, and had a clean mammogram one year earlier.
"I never could have prepared myself for the day they told me not only is it cancer, but it's already metastasized and left your breast and travelled to your liver and that’s what makes it incurable, stage four metastatic breast cancer,” says Bowling.
The life expectancy for MBC patients is 2-3 years, and five years later, Bowling continues to beat the odds and refuses to let her diagnoses do anything but motivate her efforts to raise awareness, understanding and funding for metastatic breast cancer.
“Only 5% of overall breast cancer research funding goes to stage four breast cancer,” says Bowling. “98% of all breast cancer deaths are from metastatic breast cancer. "
Bowling has formed support and education groups, raised thousands in funding for research, and pushes for local and federal legislation. She recently helped get a resolution passed in Trenton, recognizing Oct. 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day in New Jersey.
On Oct. 13, New Jersey will take part in a national LightUpMBC campaign, lighting up significant landmarks, including the Scotch Plains municipal building. Scotch Plains will be hosting a live virtual show to shine a light on Metastatic Breast Cancer.
"Metastatic Breast cancer isn't pink,” says Bowling. “There's nothing pink and rosy about in treatment the rest of your life, getting scans every three months constantly wondering if there's active cancer cells in your body."
Bowling’s daughters were only two and four when she was diagnosed. Now seven and 10, they remain her motivation to fight her form of cancer, her reason to make every day meaningful, and fuel her refusal to give up making Metastatic Breast Cancer a chronic illness, not terminal one.
"Around them I’m not a cancer patient, I'm just a mom,” says Bowling. “I pray every single night that I'll be able to hold their hand when they start high school and college and God willing when they get married. I'm so happy to be alive every day and seize the day, and that's what this diagnosis does – gives you a level of cancer clarity every day.”
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