Beating the Odds: Patients get invaluable support from American Cancer Society's 24-hour helpline

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Fighting cancer means more than just getting to medical appointments. What happens outside the hospital is often the hardest to deal with.

For Tammy Torres of Port Richmond, her phone turned out to be a vital tool in Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer.

Family comes first for Tammy.

"Cindy, Eric, and Melissa when they were babies," she says lovingly as she points to their portraits on the wall.

Tammy's five children and 11 grandchildren says she's a "supermom," guiding them through life's ups and downs. But late in 2016, a breast self-exam threw her future in doubt.

"It was lumps, and it felt like more than one or two," Tammy said.

A biopsy confirmed her fears - cancer.

"I did 12 rounds of chemotherapy. I did six weeks of radiation treatment. that was every day - 30 minutes every day for 30 days," she recalls. "I was tired. My hair started falling out. my mood swings started kicking in."

She couldn't keep food down, and even when she ate, it didn't taste good. Sick and confused, Tammy found just the help she needed with the American Cancer Society's 24-hour helpline.

"I was calling them back-to-back, sometimes 11 at night, four in the morning, again, at seven o'clock in the morning," she says, grateful they were there when she needed them.

She got tips on what to eat and how to minimize the nausea and they helped make sure she got to treatment.

"They had transportation to pick me up, drop me off. And my God, that helped out so much because the girls had to work," she notes.

6abc Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer: How to get involved

Tammy got through seven grueling months of treatment, and just celebrated 2 cancer-free years. Now, she's devoted to making others aware of breast cancer - her car decals say it loud and clear.

There's a pink "Find A Cure" ribbon and another decal saying, " I kicked cancer's ***." Her sister also makes "survivor" bracelets.

Tammy says she couldn't have made it through without her family's strength, and support from the Cancer Society's helpline.

"It was good to know that they were there that I can confide my personal problems to them," she says.

And that helpline, 1-800-227-2345, can help with everything from finding free mammograms to advice on managing side effects.

Sunday's Making Strides Walk at Jack Curtis Stadium in Pennsauken supports that and many other programs.

To register or donate for the walk, CLICK HERE.
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