Breast cancer blindsided me, and I overcame it

Breast cancer blindsided me, and I overcame it

    Friday, November 3, 2023


- by Ashley Tamasovich 


In 2018, I had everything anyone could desire. A loving husband, two wonderful daughters ages 8 and 3, a beautiful home and a career that enabled me to help people. 


I had a lot of life ahead of me. Or so I thought. 


One night, at the age of 36, I felt a lump in my armpit. 


Soon after, I was diagnosed with stage 2 HER2 breast cancer, a high-risk and aggressive disease. My storybook life was shattered. What if … 


Too much at risk to settle for less 

I was young, active, ate healthy and had no family history of breast cancer. How could this happen? I had a family and couldn’t bear the thought of not being there for them. 


So, I researched. I needed the best care and the best doctors. There was too much at risk to settle for less. Thankfully, I found the Genesis Cancer Care Center. As time matters in cancer treatment, I quickly underwent surgery and chemotherapy. 


Gratefully looking back 

It was hard. I was exhausted, nauseated, lost my appetite and my body ached. However, I was blessed to receive support from my family and friends and the new friends I made at Genesis. I was more than a task they had to complete. They understood what was at stake. They took a personal interest in me and got me through the most challenging part of my life. 


It has been five amazing years since my diagnosis. Five years of continuing to be a wife and mom. Five years of watching my daughters grow and compete in gymnastics competitions across the U.S. I know the pressure is on them when they compete, but I promise it is harder to watch. I want them to be happy so much I become a nervous wreck during competitions … and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. 


Joyfully looking ahead 

I am sharing my story because I want everyone to know you can beat cancer. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can make a difference. I didn’t fit the profile, but cancer still found me. Then I found Genesis, and I get to stay active and do the things I love. 


I get to keep being a wife, a mom and enjoying my hectic, wonderful life. 


Self-exams to self-awareness 

Breast self-exams (BSE) used to be the recommended routine screening for breast cancer. Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) now emphasize the importance of breast awareness. 


Breast awareness involves being familiar with how your breasts look and feel and promptly reporting changes to your healthcare provider.  


Here are general guidelines: 

  1. Know: Familiarize yourself with your breasts’ normal appearance and feel. 

  2. Observe: Stand in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides and visually inspect your breasts for changes in size, shape or contour; skin changes or changes in the nipples. 

  3. Perform: Lie down and place a pillow under your right shoulder. Use the pads of your three middle fingers on your left hand to examine your right breast. Apply light pressure and use a circular motion to cover the entire breast, including the underarm area and the area above the collarbone. Repeat the process on your left breast using your right hand. 

  4. Check: Pay attention to lumps, thickening or areas of unusual firmness. Many women have lumpy breasts due to normal hormonal changes, so finding a lump doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. Consult your provider if you notice new or unusual changes. 


Breast awareness is not a substitute for regular mammograms or professional exams. Women aged 40 and older are encouraged to undergo regular mammograms as part of breast cancer screening programs. 


However, if you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, talk with your Primary Care or Specialty Physician about a screening schedule. 


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.