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Tami Siegel and Mary Jo Young have been best friends all their lives, but never imagined they would share a breast cancer diagnosis.

Giving Hearts Day: Hope for cancer survivors

January 25, 2021

Tami Siegel and Mary Jo Young have been best friends since growing up in a small Minnesota town, southwest of Fargo. They’ve been through a lot together, but never imagined they would be diagnosed with breast cancer just a month apart.

With expert, comprehensive care at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center, the friends received the treatment they needed to not just survive their cancer diagnoses but thrive.

Mary Jo was diagnosed first, in October 2019, after her yearly mammogram showed an irregular spot.

“When my doctor said I had breast cancer, I went numb,” Mary Jo said. “My mom had breast cancer and a mastectomy, but I was still shocked hearing the words.”

After making a treatment plan with her caregivers, she called her childhood friend Tami to share the news.

Tami had noticed a lump earlier in the year, and after hearing Mary Jo’s news, decided she couldn’t wait until her next mammogram to have it checked. After a biopsy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month after Mary Jo.

“My heart dropped,” Tami said. “I had friends who lost their battles with cancer and friends who conquered it, but my mind kept going to those who lost. I was terrified.

“One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was tell my daughter and son that I had cancer.”

While the friends were fearful of the future, they found hope in their new caregivers at Roger Maris. From the nurse navigators to the survivor support resources, the team at Roger Maris came together to set them up for success.

“I had the most amazing team and feel so lucky these medical professionals were put into my journey!” Tami said. “I feel so glad that I went to Roger Maris for my treatment.”

“They made us feel at ease and made treatments go so much better,” Mary Jo added. “Everyone at Roger Maris was so wonderful! We were so lucky to have our treatments at such a great place!”

And of course, they had each other. Tami and Mary Jo had the same schedule for radiation and were able to carpool and support each at each appointment. On their last day of treatment, they shared tears of joy as they rang the bell together.

“We finished radiation on February 18, 2020, and have both been doing great!” Tami said. “Ringing the bell was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It signified the end of a frightful journey and the beginning of a new journey as a survivor. Both of our families were there to celebrate with us.”

Today, both Tami and Mary Jo are doing great, and their friendship is even stronger than it was before.

 

Your impact

Our donors are with cancer patients every step of the way, from diagnosis to survivorship. Join us this Giving Hearts Day in supporting survivorship resources for Roger Maris patients.

Your donation of $100 could provide:

  • 4 hours of massages to patients
  • 4-week yoga session for 10 patients
  • Young adult art workshop
  • 50 art kits for patients during chemotherapy
  • Stress reduction course materials for newly diagnosed cancer patients

Visit givingheartsday.org and search “Roger Maris Cancer Center” to make your gift.