MP family fighting cancer together – Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm


Linda Pohren of Mt. Pleasant, and her daughter, Tammy Mumme (pronounced “Mummy”), have always done things together. But, according to Linda, “This is ridiculous!” Both Linda and her daughter have breast cancer—Linda, Stage II, and Tammy, Stage I.
Mother and daughter, Linda Pohren and Tammy Mumme both have breast cancer. As if that weren’t enough, Linda’s husband, who was Tammy’s father, died of lung, brain and liver cancer one year ago in May. And Tammy’s son, Dillyn, had leukemia as an adolescent. He will be six years cancer free this May. You might say cancer is in their family.
Tammy had always been religious about having a yearly mammogram. But life gets hectic, and it had been three years since her last one. She found a lump, but she’d had lumps before, and they always turned out to be caused by too much caffeine. She had a mammogram, and the lump was benign. But there were “other issues.” More mammograms were done and a biopsy. Normally, when “issues” such as these arise, there is a high probability of cancer. Even if the biopsy came back negative, she was told, treatment would still be recommended.
The biopsy came back positive. Tammy had breast cancer.
She went to the University of Iowa Hospital and asked to speak with the genetics department because of her son and father having had cancer. It turned out that with leukemia in the family, breast cancer was also common. She text her Mother’s cousin concerning family history. She found out that breast, ovarian and uterine cancer were prevalent on her mother’s side.
Tammy didn’t waste time. She called her mother and begged her to have a mammogram. Her mother didn’t want to because she didn’t want to know if she had cancer or not. But she would do anything for her family. Her mother had a mammogram that same day. A lump was found and the biopsy came back positive. Her mother had cancer in the same breast as Tammy. Tammy’s cancer was ductile while her mother’s was invasive.
The recommended treatment for both mother and daughter at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics was lumpectomies followed by radiation treatments. Tammy was to have radiation treatment five days a week for five weeks. But Tammy didn’t feel comfortable with the treatment. She was aware that if you have breast cancer and it comes back, it comes back with a vengeance, and you can’t have radiation on the same breast twice. She and her mother will go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a second opinion.
Tammy’s feeling is that she’s had a full life, she’s 47, she’s had her children, and because of family history, she would just as soon have a double mastectomy and be done with it. Because of her mother’s age, 69, and health condition, a mastectomy is not recommended. Her mother’s probable treatment will be a lumpectomy followed by radiation.
Tammy is the owner and operator of a well-known beauty salon in Mt. Pleasant, “Mirror Image Salon and Spa.” According to Tammy, everyone has a mirror image. She is the mirror image of her mother, her mother is the mirror image of her grandmother, and so on.
Tammy wants everyone to know that there will be no disruption in service at the salon while she is away because her team has her back. Customers can also schedule their appointments for when Tammy returns. Work is the best therapy for Tammy. She may not be able to raise her arms, but she’ll get the job done, by golly. She also wants to advise people to not put their health on the back burner like she and her mother did. Have those annual checkups.
Tammy’s daughter, Jayde, is about to graduate from college, was recently married in Scotland, and designed Tammy’s salon. She is going to undergo early testing.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, the major color in Tammy’s salon sign is purple. As in cancer awareness.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

About Chuck Vandenberg 4537 Articles
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