Being Diligent About Cancer Early Detection

Tami Beaty is no stranger to cancer.

She’s lost people she cared a lot about to cancer. First her grandmother to breast cancer, and more recently, a friend who had ovarian cancer. Then, in 2017, Tami serendipitously discovered her own cancer after finding a lump in her breast while crossing her arms.

Thankfully, her breast cancer was caught early but it does make Tami wonder: “For my breast cancer if I hadn’t found my lump, it makes me wonder when it would have been found?”

Knowing her family’s history with breast cancer and feeling thankful her diagnosis was found sooner rather than later, Tami has become passionate about early cancer detection.

“For me, I’m passionate about it, because what if I had not felt that tumor? I wasn’t getting regular exams every single year, and I feel like maybe I would have caught it at a later stage because of that and my treatment and diagnosis could have been much different.”

And when Tami found out about the PATHFINDER study, which evaluates a multi-cancer early detection test called Galleri (™), designed to detect many types of cancer through a single blood draw, she calls her decision to participate in it was a “no-brainer.” Galleri is developed by GRAIL, a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it is more likely to be cured. Galleri is investigational and not currently available outside of the PATHFINDER study.

“When I saw the study was for people like me looking to catch cancer early, that was really exciting,” she says. “I am really vigilant about having diagnostics every six months, so this was an added bonus to be able to do another test. I’m all about catching stuff early.”

She even brought her husband and parents along to take part in the PATHFINDER study, which she called a streamlined process.

“I thought that the team did a really good job. We were very impressed with the questions that were asked, and the blood test was painless. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to find this study.”

For Tami, participating in the PATHFINDER study with her family wasn’t enough. After experiencing cancer and the impact it has had on her at different stages of her life, she felt compelled to tell her story, hoping it encourages others to take their health into their own hands.

“I have been wanting to share my story because I’m one of the 40% of women whose cancer is not caught on a mammogram. I had a 3D diagnostic mammogram when I felt that ‘bump’ on my breast in 2017. I have what is called ‘extremely dense breast tissue’. Finding cancer in my breasts is like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm. Dense tissue is white on a mammogram but so is cancer! A subsequent diagnostic ultrasound is what caught my cancer, it also saw the blood source to the tumor as well.  I am thankful for that ultrasound! My 3D diagnostic mammogram completely missed my cancer. Many women die of breast cancer because their cancer is not caught early enough or not seen at all. No one should have to go through a latent stage cancer diagnosis. There are ways to catch cancer early, you just have to be vigilant.”

As someone who is familiar with both sides of the cancer spectrum – as a survivor and caring about a loved one going through their own journey – Tami understands the emotional toll cancer takes and also the importance of being diligent about your own health.

“There are people that put their heads in the sand and would rather not know if they have cancer, but I think it’s vital people are proactive about their health.”