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Long Before Her Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Tammy Handley Understood the Importance of Annual Mammograms   

As the national senior manager of clinical operations for women’s health at FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corp., Tammy Handley has been ensconced in the world of breast cancer for decades. Tammy proudly served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and opened mammography programs in several Naval hospitals. “I understand the importance of regular mammograms,” she said.

In 2022, Tammy went in for her routine mammogram and ended up getting a call to come back for a follow up. “That isn’t unusual. I had implants and then had them removed, so I thought maybe my mammogram showed scar tissue,” Tammy explained. But as soon as she arrived for her appointment, she realized the tech was looking for more than scar tissue. Tammy had additional images taken and an appointment for a biopsy was set up.

“With no family history, there was no reason to think that I was going to have a positive biopsy,” she said. She was at work when she received a call with the results: Tammy had high grade ductal carcinoma in situ with possible lymph node involvement. Although her breast cancer was caught early, Tammy knew she had to act quickly.

“When I met with the doctor, I just didn’t want to go in with my own ideas of what I should do, I wanted to hear the options,” said Tammy. Because of a history of blood clots, she knew she could not have hormone therapy. She considered chemotherapy and radiation and weighed the pros and cons.

Tammy knew if she had a single mastectomy, there was risk for the breast cancer to come back in her other breast. “I told the doctor I wanted to do a double mastectomy. I’m of Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage, which also increases my risk of developing breast cancer. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder,” she said of her decision.

Knowing the importance of regular mammograms, Tammy encourages others to make sure they’re regularly getting screened. “Don’t wait. Get your mammograms – it’s our opportunity to give back time to our families and to stop this monster, breast cancer, in its tracks.”

Tammy’s experience renewed her passion for the work she does every day with Fujifilm, where she leads a team that oversees and trains customers on the company’s ASPIRE Cristalle 3D mammography systems. “I tell people they should get their mammogram every year. If I had skipped my mammogram in 2022, my story would have been different,” she said. “I’ve seen what happens in communities where there hasn’t been a mammography machine and people haven’t gotten annual mammograms. They’re diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage, and it could have been prevented. It’s preventable – cancer isn’t, but the outcomes are.”

Listen to Tammy share her story on the Real Pink podcast.

Susan G. Komen would like to thank Fujifilm for their support of this blog.