Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Veteran Spotlight: Tami
In 1992, Tami Jacobs joined the U.S. Army to be a flight electrician. She loved her job and might still be doing that if she had not been injured and honorably medically discharged. Tami and her husband, happily married with two grown children and several grandchildren, are living in rural Richland, Missouri.
In March 2008, during a routine breast exam, her doctor discovered several small, bilateral masses. She admits that she did not even know anything was new or wrong as she had always had lumps and bumps in her naturally large breasts. After her exam, she went for an MRI and even had a biopsy done. No cancer was detected. She had yearly mammograms, which led to yearly ultrasounds from 2009 until 2012. By 2013, three areas had grown together quickly. The area was biopsied, which confirmed that Tami had cancer.
Tami states that she felt like she was a total part of the treatment plan and that she was able to make informed decisions along with her doctor, Donna Richardson, MD. Tami opted to have a double mastectomy. She said that VA told her that they would take care of everything and that all she needed to do was focus on her recovery. And she verifies that is what happened. VA personnel took care of scheduling appointments, contacting insurance companies and connecting her with the resources she needed.
The day she removed the bandages and looked in the mirror was mortifying and emotional. To boost her self-esteem, Tami says that she needed to have reconstruction surgery. She again collaborated with her doctors to formulate the best plan for her long term health and safety. Even though she is now healthy, she will never get used to not being her natural size.
Tami is thankful of the Women’s Health initiative within the VA system. She continues to follow up with her doctors on a regular basis and is happy with the choices she has made. Tami encourages all women to be persistent, to know their own body, and to feel comfortable with their doctor. Together, as a team, they need to find the right plan for the patient. Tami challenges all women to step outside their comfort zones and get a mammogram this year. It could save their life.