Tandria, known as Tan, is a single mother of twins who relocated to Georgia just before the pandemic's onset. In that very year, she detected lumps in her right breast. Tan scheduled an appointment with her primary care physician. Subsequently, she underwent a mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy. Despite her apprehensions, she maintained optimism for the sake of her young children.
On September 28, 2020, merely a month after her 30th birthday, Tan received a call prompting her to visit her doctor's office for the test results. Though her gut feeling had prepared her, the confirmation that the diagnosis was indeed positive for cancer was still a sobering moment. The weight of her stage IIB DCIS breast cancer diagnosis, combined with the logistical challenge of navigating treatment with minimal support for her four-year-old children, was a tremendous blow.
Tan enlisted her mother's support during the initial treatment phases, including port placement and the first rounds of chemotherapy. However, as treatment progressed, the feasibility of this arrangement diminished. In response, Tan's cousin moved to Georgia to provide necessary caregiving assistance.
Tan embarked on a comprehensive treatment journey, which included completing four rounds of chemotherapy every two weeks, spanning a total of eight weeks. Subsequently, she underwent 12 rounds of Taxol treatment administered weekly. The culmination of her treatment was marked by a bilateral mastectomy, during which 18 lymph nodes were excised due to the cancer's spread to six of them. Opting to forego additional surgical interventions, Tan chose to remain flat.
Her treatment path also encompassed a course of radiation therapy, involving a total of 31 sessions, concluding on August 12, 2021. As she navigates her way through survivorship, Tan is currently undergoing hormone therapy, which includes Letrozole, Lupron injections, and Verzenio. Amidst the physical and emotional challenges posed by the aftermath of chemotherapy and hormonal treatments, the mental health implications of her cancer journey stand as a significant yet often overlooked struggle.
In her advocacy pursuits, Tan serves as an ambassador for For the Breast of Us and as an ANGEL Advocate for Tigerlily. Her advocacy initiatives are multifaceted, encompassing support for single mothers, women with limited networks, proponents of the "going flat" choice, mental health awareness, and women of color. With steadfast determination, Tan emphasizes that while cancer may have entered their lives, it does not dictate their identity. Regardless of the obstacles and hardships they face, they rise above and persist.