Stories / Patient stories

Tammy’s story

Tammy’s story GRHF story Tammy’s story GRHF story

Tammy (front) with pharmacist, Mona Abdallah (left) and oncologist, Dr. Hamid Mithoowani (right).

Tammy Jordao Chalk went to her scheduled mammogram at the Grand River Hospital’s Waterloo Wellington Breast Centre, but she never expected the results to come back showing lumps in her breasts and lymph nodes. When her doctor told her she had breast cancer, time froze for a moment. She couldn’t believe it.

“It was difficult to tell my husband and kids. You don’t really know how tough it will be until it happens to you. And it’s really hard on your family because they don’t know what to do to help; they too felt nervous and helpless.”

Stepping into Grand River Regional Cancer Centre for her first appointment, Tammy felt overwhelmed with fear and nervousness. But all that disappeared briefly when the clerk greeted her with a smile and words of encouragement. Tammy felt calm.

“The staff have really made treatment easier. My oncologist, Dr. Hamid Mithoowani made me feel like I was his only patient. He went through everything I could expect, asked questions, and answered mine. I never felt rushed,” said Tammy.

Over two months, Tammy would undergo chemotherapy. She had a unique way of coping with her cancer and treatment that was inspired by Beyonce’s way of overcoming stage fright. She created her own alter ego, Tammy Fierce. For the next eight weeks, Tammy and some of her friends would walk into Grand River Hospital’s chemotherapy suite dressed up in different costumes. Every week was a new theme from cabaret to carollers, cops to cheerleaders to disco.

“Every visit patients and staff would ask us what we were doing and tell us that we inspired them and made their day. It was amazing to see that what I was doing to cope myself helped others too,” said Tammy.

On her final day of chemotherapy, her family and friends joined Tammy at the cancer centre to celebrate. All of them would tell you Tammy is their inspiration.

Thanks to the generosity of our community, Grand River Regional Cancer Centre and support programs were available for Tammy during this difficult time. It made a difference to her and her family and they are grateful to have these services right here at home.

“Thank you so much to the generous donors who have supported the cancer centre and of course the wonderful staff. You saved my life.”

Read more stories about the cancer centre’s 15 years.