Something to cheer about: When Pickard completed treatments, AJHS celebrated

Published 3:45 am Friday, October 20, 2017

Andalusia Junior High School had an impromptu pep rally Monday, and it had nothing to do with football. Instead, the students and faculty celebrated their teacher and co-worker’s completion of radiation treatments.

Students lined the walkway to the school, and the halls, cheering loudly as Tammy Pickard returned to class.

It was a routine mammogram at Andalusia Health in January, when Pickard discovered she had Micrometastases.

“The first thing I did when I received my diagnosis, was visit a breast cancer survivor, Patty Ashworth,” Pickard said, “She really guided me through the beginning processes,”

Pickard’s breast cancer was in the 2A stage, meaning that it was still contained within her breast.

The science teacher at Andalusia Junior High School knew she had to act fast.

“I wanted to be as aggressive as possible in fighting this.” Pickard said.

She had a mastectomy, and from there she was referred to Andalusia’s 21st Century Oncology Center.

“Working in Andalusia, and also receiving my treatments in Andalusia was extremely convenient for me,” Pickard said, “Not only that, but the entire medical staff I dealt with were amazing.”

Pickard only missed two days of school the weeks her treatments were scheduled.

If she had commuted to Montgomery for treatments, she would have missed six weeks of work.

“The school system was extremely supportive, they worked around my schedule, always checked on me.” Pickard said.

Pickard was introduced to Dr. Boatwright, and they immediately worked out a plan.

“I felt so at ease with Dr. Boatwright, he included me in all of the decisions,” Pickard said, “If something we tried didn’t work, he had an alternate plan ready.”

She completed four of the “Red Devil” chemo treatments, and moved on to Taxol, an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug.

When she developed painful neuropathy, specifically in her toes, Dr. Boatwright switched her over to Abraxane.

“It’s important to get regular mammograms,” Pickard said, “and educate yourself on your situation. Surround yourself with your family.”

When Pickard says family, she means church family, immediate family, her work family, her 21st Oncology Center family.

She said she was appreciative of her husband, who picked her up when she was low, and cheered her on; her church family, who prayed for her well-being, and surrounded her with positivity; her immediate family, who showed her an abundance of support; her work family, including the students, who surprised her with her own pep rally in the hallways of AJHS; and the employees of 21st Oncology Center, who understood her on a much more personal level, and helped her maintain a “regular life.”

Now done with radiation, she’s set to take hormone therapy in November.

“I feel positive and optimistic,” Pickard said, “And tired.”