Sound of Hope
GONZALES – Dutchtown High School counselor and breast cancer survivor, 51-year-old Tammy Blanchard, returned to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center on Dec. 8 to take care of some very important unfinished business.
Following the completion of six weeks of radiation therapy in Oct. 2015, Blanchard looked forward to ringing the Sound of Hope survivor bell to celebrate her significant achievement, a tradition among patients on their last day of treatment. The bell, funded by the Partners of Hope employee giving program, had temporarily been removed during an interior building renovation, so the bell-ringing was delayed. But a few weeks later, with Cancer Center staff cheering her on, Blanchard stepped up to the bell and rang it long and strong.
“It feels good,” she said, with a big smile. “It’s a symbol to others that you can beat cancer. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me get here.”
Blanchard said she is also thankful that her breast cancer was caught early.
“I had no symptoms at all, no lump and never felt bad. It was only due to a mammogram, which I have every year, that my cancer was detected at the earliest possible stage,” she said.
Following a lumpectomy, Blanchard met with radiation oncologist, Renee Levine, MD.
“Her first words to me were, ‘Congratulations – you just saved your own life,’ in acknowledgement of my recent mammogram,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard, who said that she is a strong believer that everything happens for a reason,
intends to use her cancer experience to help others.
“Because I have an annual mammogram, comparing this year’s results with last year’s helped show even the smallest of change, which led to further testing and a cancer diagnosis,” she said.
“Women need to know that not only should they begin getting mammograms at the appropriate age, but they must continue getting them.”
In her professional life, Blanchard said she feels better equipped to counsel students with a parent going through cancer treatment.
“I know from prior exposure to situations like this that kids are afraid to ask questions. They think the parent is already going through enough,” she said. “Now, as both a parent and a cancer survivor, my hope is that these students will feel they can ask me the questions they want to ask that parent.”