Georgia woman beats breast cancer twice: 'I feel like I'm a better version of me'

At 43, Tasashia McCormick of Mableton, Georgia, is learning to slow down and savor life's small moments.

"I feel like I'm a better version of me now, having gone through some really hard things, made some really hard decisions," McCormick says.

She was 40 when she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in Jan. 2020.

"It was a regular mammogram," she says. "What they saw in the mammogram were suspicious areas that they call micro-calcifications."

She had been getting mammograms for seven years.

"My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 32-years-old," McCormick says. "She had HER2+. She was 48."

Her mom survived her fight.

McCormick admits she wasn't worried when doctors at Atlanta's Northside Hospital initially flagged her mammogram.

"I'm like, 'Maybe it's just a bad read,'" McCormick remembers. "That's what I said to myself. I didn't want to immediately go to cancer."

Types of treatment for breast cancer

She underwent a procedure known as a lumpectomy.

"They remove the tumor itself and the tissue surrounding it, until they get clear margins," McCormick explains. "So, it was stage 1. It was a smaller tumor. The recommendation was for me to have radiation, which I did. It was quick. You go in, you're in and out in 15 minutes. But I think the side effects of it, the long-term, it's hard. "

By May 2020, McCormick was wrapping up treatment.

"I was declared cancer-free after the last radiation treatment," she says. "The next scan I had showed that there were no signs of cancer."

McCormick says she and her mother both tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations that raise their risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Still, she was vigilant about her follow-ups.

"Every three months, I'd go see my oncologist," she says. "The scans were good, everything was going well, until it wasn't."

Georgia woman diagnosed with breast cancer again after winning first battle

In Feb. 2021, just 13 months after her initial diagnosis, the doctor found another suspicious area on her breast.

"It was the same type of cancer, the same breast," McCormick says. "I was just in shock. I couldn't believe that, here I am a year later, and I have been diagnosed with cancer again. And really, what does that mean?"

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A few months later, she underwent a double mastectomy at Northside.

Then, after a break to recover from the surgery, McCormick began eight cycles of chemotherapy to try to destroy any remaining cancer.

How does breast cancer change you?

"It's amazing how something that kills the bad, it feels like it's killing you," she remembers. "But, it defined me. It helped me to become a new me, if that makes sense. I think that you take the good and the bad, and you make something new."

Nearly three years later, McCormick feels like she is finally on the other side of cancer.

"I feel that me, being the positive person that I am, I took that journey. It was a moment in time, but from there, I still had to choose to live," she says.

She still has moments when everything she has been through comes rushing back to her.

"When I go in for my annual scans, when I go to the oncologist, and I see others who are fighting in that fight, you have those moments that come back to you, and it puts you back in that place of, 'I was there. I remember. I know what they're going through,'" she says.

But today, Tasashia McCormick is running road races with her father, traveling, and living, she says, a really good life.

"I just want to encourage everyone, you know, whether it's a cancer journey, or whether it's just a hard moment in life, just to keep going," McCormick says.