Survivor stresses value of early detection

7 years ago

FORT KENT, Maine — A family history of cancer motivated Tammy Albert of Wallagrass to exercise diligence when it comes to health care education and medical check-ups, and it may have saved her life. Doctors diagnosed Albert with Stage 1 breast cancer in May 2014.

“I did not have symptoms,” Albert said. “I often thought of when I would be diagnosed with breast cancer or a cancer diagnoses due to our strong family history. I was extremely surprised to be diagnosed at 47 years old.”

Albert, now 50, underwent a lumpectomy one month later, which she said was successful in retrieving the cancer. Shortly after, she began traveling to Presque Isle five days a week for seven weeks to undergo radiation treatments.

Albert is recognizable to many in the community as an advocate for abused individuals as the volunteer and prevention coordinator of the Hope and Justice Project. She has offered support to countless families who have been affected by violence. Albert said the support was returned to her by her family, friends and employer when she most needed it following her diagnosis.

She has been married to David Albert for 29 years. He is port director for Customs and Border Patrol in Fort Kent. They have two grown children, Marissa, an educator for Fish River Rural Health and coach for the Maine School Administrative District No. 27, and Garrett, a law enforcement officer for the city of Brunswick.

“I could not have gone through this journey had it not been for the love and support from my husband and children. This disease had affected them also,” Albert said. “When I needed them they were my safe place to fall……I am so blessed to have them all.”

Hope and Justice also provided her the time she needed to focus on fighting the disease.

“I was extremely blessed and thankful in having employers give me the time I needed for treatments, recovery and for staff to pick up extra work to help me through this process,” she said. “They were understanding and considerate with what I was going through. I am very grateful to be working for this great organization.”

Albert said that a breast cancer diagnosis affects everyone differently.

“It was important for me to be around positive energy which kept my spirits up. I was determined to keep living life as I had always done,” she said.

Her advice to others is to become as educated as possible about the disease.

“I would tell anyone who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer not be afraid to feel the flood of emotions they may have. Learn about your diagnosis and never be afraid to ask questions,” she said. “I believe that everyone with this diagnosis experiences their own journey. It is theirs and no one can give a remedy for how to feel or what to do.”

Albert said she is willing to share her story with others in the hopes of helping them, as her loved ones did for her.

“I thank my mother, sisters, and cousin who are all survivors for providing me with information on their treatment and never being afraid to discuss this disease with me,” she said. “Out of my journey, I have realized that I am a strong and brave woman. I am not afraid to share my experience, but want to express what I went through and to be present for anyone who may be diagnosed. I continue to express that early detection is so valuable in helping treat this disease.”