Cancer story with one happy ending – Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm


Have you ever heard of both a mother and daughter having breast cancer at the same time in the same breast? It happened to Linda Pohren and Tammy Mumme of Mt. Pleasant. Linda’s husband, Jim, who is Tammy’s father, also died of lung cancer and complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. Tammy’s son, Dillyn, had leukemia as an adolescent. You might say cancer has this family’s number. Tammy’s daughter, Jayde, will be watched closely and checked early. In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here is a cancer story that has a happy ending. Early detection and aggressive treatment pays off!
Mother and daughter, Linda Pohren and Tammy Mumme, are both cancer free. Note Cancer Awareness sweatshirts proclaiming, “No One Fights Alone.” Tammy has a popular beauty salon on Main Street in Mt. Pleasant known as Mirror Image Salon and Spa. She had been busy with her husband, Corey, and her family and friends refurbishing a downtown building to accommodate the salon. When her father passed away, she put her health on the back burner. When a lump was detected in her breast and it proved to be malignant, she badgered her mother into a mammogram. It was discovered that her mother also had breast cancer—invasive, while Tammy’s was ductile.
They first went to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City, and then to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Tammy, at age 47, wasn’t going to mess around. She opted for a double mastectomy, even though cancer was in only one breast—the other had three spots that probably would have turned cancerous. Her mother, Linda, however, because of her age (69 at the time) and health condition, had a lumpectomy followed by radiation. Sign of the times: Tammy kept friends and interested parties posted on her and her mother’s condition, treatment and progress on Facebook’s, “Same Fight..Same Dream..Same Cure” page. Friends and strangers were able to offer words of encouragement and prayers, which helped considerably during Tammy and her mother’s lengthy surgeries and treatment.
Implants last only 10-15 years, therefore Tammy opted for reconstruction surgery using a procedure called DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric perforators). Tissue was taken from her tummy to rebuild her breasts. In her words, “She wasn’t perfect before the surgery and she wasn’t perfect after.” She left her room at 7:00 in the morning and did not return until 9:30 that night. A team of four doctors performed the procedure. She came home with four drains and a vacuum. Her husband and kids were taught how to test for proper blood flow. When they applied pressure, the tissue should turn white. When they released pressure, it should return to pink, indicating good blood flow. If at any time she lost circulation, emergency surgery would be required.
Linda had two tumors and two lymph nodes removed. A new “wiff” device was inserted to direct radiation to where it was needed, away from the heart and lungs—like a highway interchange directing traffic. Instead of 35 days of radiation treatment, Linda had only three.
Linda and Tammy were the Mayo Clinic’s first mother/daughter cancer-treatment combo. Mayo has had sisters before, but never mother/daughter. What’s next—father/daughter? That was very close to happening with Tammy and her father.
One of Tammy’s latest postings on Same Fight..Same Dream..Same Cure is, “I’m Free..I’m Free!”
Have you had your annual check-up? Men and women both!
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 5476 Articles
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