Tammy Frank and her family
Tammy Frank and her husband Mike are two young entrepreneurs from Acworth,
Georgia who have been married for fourteen years and are the proud parents
of two wonderful children, Jacqueline who is 13 and George, age 10. They
are a tightly-knit family who at one time enjoyed camping and trips to
the ocean. They are also a family with deep religious beliefs, which at
this time is very crucial to their current situation. You see, Tammy was
diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in November of 2000.
It all began in January 1999, when Tammy began to experience severe abdominal
pains that subsequently lead her to the local emergency room on two separate
occasions. However, it wasn't until November 2000 when she again sought
medical attention for the same pain that her physician discovered she
had what was thought to be an ovarian cyst. Tammy was referred to a gynecologist
whom she saw the next day. The gynecologist told Tammy she needed to have
surgery immediately. On November 21, 2000, Tammy was to undergo a diagnostic
laparoscopy, but when they attempted entry through her naval, they immediately
omental adhesions to the anterior abdominal wall, all the way from the
umbilicus into the pelvis. She had extensive scar tissue down in the pelvis
which required a laparotomy in order to dissect the tubes and ovaries
off the colon. The right ovary had some small excrescences on it. The
tube on that side was adhered to the ovary. Both of these were adhered
to the colon. She had a large left hydrosalpinx which was also stuck to
her colon. What began as a minor procedure immediately turned into a full-blown invasive
surgery to remove pelvic mass, rupture and clean adhesions attached throughout
her pelvis and colon, and dissect her fallopian tubes and ovaries off
the colon. Six specimens were taken and sent to the Mayo Clinic Pathology.
Each specimen revealed Tammy Frank had Malignant Mesothelioma of Epithelial
Type. The horror of hearing her diagnosis was only matched by what was
THE SEARCH FOR TREATMENT
Tammy's doctor was unable to locate a physician in the entire state
of Georgia who specialized in the treatment of mesothelioma so she was
referred to a doctor at the Southeastern Oncology and Gynecology in Atlanta.
He is treating Tammy as though she has ovarian cancer. He told her she
was lucky they had caught her mesothelioma in its early stage and that
her chances for survival were good. Tammy began chemotherapy treatments
in December which consisted of paclitaxel (Taxol) combined with Carboplatin
and administered once every three weeks. She experienced hair loss, nausea,
vomiting and weight loss of 20 pounds. In January 2000, Tammy underwent
another explorative procedure using a scope to determine whether the chemotherapy
was working. It was then they found mesothelium on the liver, skin lining
and her large intestine. The procedure was followed by three more chemotherapy
treatments through a port she had installed in February. She began radiation
treatments in June which she will receive every four to six weeks.
KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
Tammy has managed to keep an optimistic perspective through this whole
ordeal with the help and love of her husband, children, and well-wishers
she has never even met. She has received over 300 cards and letters from
people who want to let Tammy know she is in their prayers. It becomes
quite evident that Tammy has many people concerned for her when you call
her home and get a recorded greeting detailing her current treatment schedule
followed by a closing spiritual sentiment. Since Tammy is now unable to
work and her medical bills keep building up, she says she prays for help
to get through it all - and voilà! it is done. Some of her well-wishers
have sent her little donations to help with her medical expenses. Tammy
says, "I have put my trust in God, if what he wants is to take me
that is fine, but there are so many things I would like to do for him.
I feel that God is going to heal me."
When asked about her family and how they are handling her illness, she
replied, "We have had a bad time not knowing if I was going to die.
Jackie (her daughter) is handling it better, she remains active with her
school band and serving as the school's Morning Show anchor girl.
In the beginning my son [George] was afraid I was going to die. It's
been pretty traumatic for them all." She speaks with adoring appreciation
and admiration for her husband Mike who has had to do more around the
house, taking on the added responsibility of "mother." Tammy
says they have all learned to take one day at a time and be thankful for
each day given. She adds, "We still have a long road to go but with
help from my family, friends and lots of church we have made it this far."
Tammy is a very cheerful and loving individual but expresses her anger
about the asbestos manufacturers who didn't care about the people
whose lives they would be destroying, like hers and the possibility she
may be taken from her children. She's mad and she fully intends to
be a voice for fellow mesothelioma patients.
*** POSTED SEPTEMBER 5, 2001 ***
An Update -- 8/7/02
Tammy has completed her chemo and radiation therapies and is now scheduled
for GI and small bowel testing to determine the nature of a cyst she has
developed on her small intestine. Tammy was recently hospitalized for
severe nausea, vomiting and lack of potassium - side effects from her
radiation treatments. As a 1½-year survivor of mesothelioma, she
recently participated in a Survivor Walk, sponsored by the American Cancer
Society. She and her family keep optimistic by getting up every day and
going on with their lives but at times find this task difficult when they
are having to adjust to the loss of her income and medical bills that
keep mounting. To add to her worries, her mother was recently diagnosed
with asbestos-related lung disease.
An Update -- 8/21/03
Tammy continues to receive CT scans every three months; she is awaiting
results from her last. Previous scans have shown there is a spot, however
there are no appreciable changes between scans. Tammy had been experiencing
severe pain which her primary care physician thought to be caused by scar
tissue. When Tammy went to the pain clinic she was advised that a major
nerve had been cut, thus causing her pain. She was then prescribed pain
medication which included steroids. The steroids caused her to gain over
20 pounds. She goes to therapy for weight loss three days a week. She
also visited Dr. Dan Miller at Emory who did a base-line PET and asked
Tammy to follow-up with him every two years. She says she is still blessed
with a great support network. The church is always there to help them
with whatever they need.
An Update -- 5/29/09
Tammy is going on her ninth year as a mesothelioma survivor!
Her condition is monitored with yearly PET scans and blood work. Although
Tammy’s doctor have said that the only way to be completely sure
she’s is cancer-free is to undergo exploratory surgery, this is
not feasible in her case so she’s essentially “living by fate.”
Four years ago, Tammy was diagnosed with IC bladder disease, a painful
bladder condition which was caused by the chemo eating away at her bladder
lining. She is managing her pain well and learning to take one day at a time.
Tammy is immensely grateful for her family, friends and support groups
for helping her through the years. At the cancer support group, Tammy
is always there to listen and offer up any tips (“lemon is good
for nausea!”) to help fellow cancer survivors. Her daughter, Jacqueline
is graduating high school this year and her son George will be a senior
in high school next year. She’s looking forward to focusing on herself
and her marriage to her wonderful husband Mike once the kids are out of
An Update -- 10/6/2009
Tammy keeps her spirits high by enjoying her "good days" and
trying not to think too much about the "bad days".
She is doing "pretty good" despite her mesothelioma and IC bladder
disease (caused by her chemotherapy treatments).
Tammy says she is "tired of tests" and all that goes with them.
She had a check up last week at Emery and is now waiting on the results.
She is presently not undergoing any treatment. She is taking pain medication
for the IC disease.
Tammy is surrounded by family and they help her take each day as it comes.
She looks forward to the future and hopes there will be new treatments
and medical discoveries that can help her and so many others suffering
An Update -- 1/25/2011
This past year has been an especially challenging one for Tammy on the
medical front. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic
gastrointestinal condition, likely related to her IC bladder disease.
Tammy is in and out of the doctor’s office a lot but finds it manageable
as long as she gets adequate rest in between the marathon blood work sessions
and just waiting around for results. For the past five years she has also
been undergoing pain management therapy to better cope with her condition.
Incredibly, she continues to be cancer free as she embarks on her 11th
year as a mesothelioma survivor!
Tammy’s lovely children inspire strength and optimism in her as
she accompanies them through their many milestones. Daughter Jackie is
getting married in September and she is proud that son George will be
joining the Marines this year. She is already bracing herself for the
bittersweet reality of having her children be truly out on their own.
Tammy is particularly grateful for the settlements that continue to trickle
in from her legal case. This past Christmas, she treated her immediate
and extended family to spend time together at a rustic cabin in Tennessee
during the holidays. Last year as a high school graduation present for
George, she took him, her mother and sister on a vacation to Hawaii. She
is thankful that her financial security continues to allow her to help
to her children with all her heart. Most importantly, Tammy always remembers
to Thank God and my family for helping me get through the ups and downs.
Tammy appreciates having an outlet to keep her family and friends posted
about her life through the
Worthington Law Firm’s patient profiles. She’s aware that her loved ones check her profile often and anxiously
await her updates.
Tammy and her family