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Mother, grandmother receives treatment for breast cancer

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Mother, grandmother receives treatment for breast cancer

Tammie Cornelous is putting her trust in IU Health Simon Cancer Center as she faces a second occurrence of breast cancer.

By TJ Banes, Senior Journalist, IU Health

In 2021, Tammie Cornelous went for what she thought would be a routine mammogram. A resident of Terre Haute, Ind. she heard news she didn’t expect. She had Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma (ICD).

The most common form of breast cancer ICD starts in the milk ducts and spreads to surrounding breast tissue. It can eventually spread to lymph nodes and other areas of body. Cornelous had surgery to remove the tumor in her right breast and thought she was cancer free.

In March, she learned the cancer was back and had spread to her lymph nodes. She came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center where she is in the care of Dr. Bryan Schneider.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time specifically devoted to educating men and women about early detection of breast cancer. Research indicates one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Risk factors include inherited mutations to certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2; starting menstrual periods before age 12, and starting menopause after age 55. Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women have the highest incidence of breast cancer.

Some warning signs include a lump in the breast or armpit, thickness or swelling in the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood, any change in the size or shape of the breast, and pain in any area of the breast. Early detection and effective treatment are critical to reducing breast cancer deaths.

Cornelous has been married to her husband Danny for 37 years. They are parents to two sons and a daughter, and grandparents to two boys.

“I wanted to get the best treatment so I could be in good health for my children and grandchildren,” said Cornelous. “I love Dr. Schneider. He is so personable and genuinely cares about your treatment plan. I’m very comfortable talking to him and I don’t feel like I’m just a number.”

Cornelous is diagnosed with Triple-Positive breast cancer meaning her cells have all three types of cell surface receptors to classify breast cancer - estrogen, progesterone, and human epithelial grown factor receptor 2 (HER2). About one in five breast cancers are HER2.

“Because it is so aggressive, we needed an aggressive treatment plan,” said Cornelous. She is undergoing chemotherapy at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Once the tumors have shrunk, she’s planning surgery and will do radiation if necessary. Also on her care team are Dr. Carla Fisher, Director of Breast Surgical Oncology, and Dr. Rachel Danforth, who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

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