SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Amanda Tamaccio connects with people through music as she’s in the local band, Star Chamber.
Their songs are well-known in the Shreveport music scene, where Tamaccio performs live shows at popular venues alongside with her long-time boyfriend, Corey.
They’re also music teachers and coaches at a Shreveport school.
At 31, Tamaccio had everything going for her until she got the diagnosis that has forever changed her life.
“Never in a million years did I think I was sick. I just knew something was off,” Tamaccio said.
It started just a few months ago when she felt a lump in her right breast. Her mom encouraged her to see a doctor. Amanda questioned how bad it could really be, considering her age and the fact that she was not feeling sick.
After a series of doctor visits and tests later, she was home alone when the nurse called a day earlier than expected.
“She said, ‘The results of your biopsy came back and unfortunately, it is breast cancer.’ The second she said ‘unfortunately,’ it was that word that everything falls. You really do go into shock and it’s those moments of, ‘Is this real, am I dreaming?'”
Tamaccio says she called her mom first and tried to be strong in telling her the results, but instead broke down when it hit her what lies ahead.
“Complete devastation. I mean, it’s like even up to this point halfway through chemo, the moment I found out is still the hardest thing I’ve gone through. It’s still the worst because you go through a transition of being someone that you thought you were and then you have to become someone new.”
Her mom and Corey are now her caregivers as she battles a disease she never thought she’d have. She’s going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and her breast cancer is aggressive.
Doctors found a grade-three tumor and she had to have a double mastectomy to remove both of her breasts.
“When you have cancer and you know it’s something that will kill you if you do not do something about it, it’s a little easy to say yes. Just do whatever you have to do.”
Now she says she does not recognize her own body.
“It’s a new body and every time I see it, it looks new. I am absolutely mourning the loss of my breasts. I mean there is no way around it… it is… it is tough.”
She said the treatment has taken its toll both physically and emotionally.
But Amanda and Corey are making the most out the good days including the day they had to shave her head.
“You start to make that transition into someone stronger and into someone who has to figure out what to do and has to decide to survive.”
She’s fighting the cancer day by day and tries to not let it overwhelm her as she thinks about her future.
“I probably won’t be having kids now because the final step of my treatment plan will be menopause. I always wanted a little girl my whole life.”
She said despite the pain and sadness that comes with a cancer diagnosis, she wants to connect with people by sharing her story to help others.
“It’s not like you get diagnosed and it’s just misery until it’s over. It’s back and forth. There are good moments. There are good moments in a cancer journey where you feel great, and happy, and alive and you’re able to eat a really good meal. The strength to get through cancer is within all of us. It just comes out when you have to use it. You don’t know it’s there, but it’s there.”
Amanda wants other young women to know that “if I could get breast cancer at 31, then there are other women out there this age who might have it too.”
Her advice is to be aware of your body, know your family history, and if something looks or feels different, get it checked out. They are things she says could have helped her.
“Even though it’s going to be bad, you cannot avoid how bad it is and how bad it’s going to feel. But you can make it push you into a good life when it’s over, and that’s definitely what it’s going to do for me.”
Any woman battling breast cancer is called a survivor.
Amanda’s fight is far from over, but she plans to fight hard and live a happy life.
“I appreciate just the chance to live. I’ll always be different. I will never feel the same about life and I’ll always be thankful I was given a second chance. I’m going to have my hair back and I’m going to be strong. And it’s going to be over!”
You can help Amanda in her cancer journey by donating to GoFundMe.