Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be frightening, but Tammy Springer-Marcotte says she has created a business in which she walks alongside patients as they deal with those fears. Breast Cancer Coach LLC is an online company that empowers women with education once diagnosed with the disease.
She calls it a resource and support hub.
Although Springer-Marcotte is not a breast cancer survivor, she has worked in the field for her entire 35-year career, first as a mammographer and ultrasound technician and then transitioning to the industry side in medical sales.
“Through my journey I’ve learned that there’s a big gap between women who are diagnosed and women who truly understand what’s going on,” she said. “Women need to have a better understanding of what they’re diagnosed with so they can make a well-informed decision on their treatment plan.”
Springer-Marcotte knows of women who have received an abnormal mammogram, are told to get a biopsy, hear the news that they have breast cancer and are told to see a surgeon.
“They’re (panicking) because now it’s going to take three weeks to get an appointment,” she said. “All they hear is cancer. ‘I’m going to die.’ … They’re on the edge. I’m here to talk them off the ledge. … That’s where I come in.”
At BCC, Springer-Marcotte walks women through their diagnosis, whether it’s helping them form well-thought-out questions to ask their doctor or to give them a shoulder to cry on.
“Let me spend time with you on the phone and cry it out and talk through it,” she said. “And now when you get to your doctor’s appointment, your head space is better … and (your) time with the doctor is more valuable.”
When Springer-Marcotte asked several physicians about her idea, many were on board with it and said they see her role as a kind of team member. One asked how he can help her succeed.
A LIGHTBULB MOMENT
Before starting BCC, a friend of Springer-Marcotte called her after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. She talked her through many trying moments and gave her some direction as she walked this frightening path.
Springer-Marcotte said: “She’s now on the back end of chemo and radiation … and she said, ‘You’ve helped me, you don’t even know. The timing of helping me think through it, asking the right questions, if I needed a second opinion, guiding me on where I need to go. I feel like you guiding me really saved my life.’ Sometimes you don’t realize your impact.”
She set out to create a business model with plans to form an advisory board.
BCC also acts as a support network for patients’ caregivers and families, especially when the disease has advanced.
“The caregivers kind of get forgotten about,” Springer-Marcotte said. “They carry it all on their shoulders.”
She discussed her idea with a friend, who owns a vacation rental home near Winter Garden, and the friend offered to hold retreats at this location on a lake in the woods. Another friend, who is a yoga instructor, could hold classes.
“It’s being able to relax and get your head space into (one) of self-care,” Springer-Marcotte said.
“THERE’S SUCH A NEED”
Olga Ivanov is the medical director at BCC and said she was excited to join the team because of Springer-Marcotte’s expertise in the field and her ability to execute the idea. She is a board-certified and fellowship-trained breast surgeon and currently is assistant professor of surgery at the University of Central Florida.
Her role is to review each case and relay the information to Springer-Marcotte.
“I spend three minutes with Tammy, and then she can take an hour with the patient,” Ivanov said.
The two have worked together in the breast cancer field since 2011.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Springer-Marcotte said. “There’s such a need, and there’s nothing like it out there. … That’s an important piece. I don’t think women are aware of the options. When they hear that word ‘cancer,’ it’s really hard to process what doctors are saying. Doctors don’t frankly have the time to sit and talk to them (for the length of time) that some women need, and that’s where we come in.”
When a patient goes to BCC, the first appointment is to review mammogram, ultrasound, MRI and pathology reports. The next steps are to determine a plan for the patient, and BCC offers various options and price levels that include by-the-hour, a three-month breast cancer coaching program or a one-year VIP support package.
Breast Cancer Coach offers many services, including personalized coaching, emotional support, education and resources, and survivorship care planning. Coaches work closely with patients to develop a customized care plan that takes into consideration the patient’s unique needs, treatment options and personal preferences. Coaches allow patients a safe space in which to express their feelings while going through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Access to accurate and up-to-date information is crucial on the breast cancer journey, Springer-Marcotte said. BCC equips patients with educational resources, reputable sources and practical tools to enhance their understanding of breast cancer, the treatment options available, survivorship, and self-care practices.
Coaches will address long-term concerns, including prevention, lifestyle changes and emotional well-being.
“We’re enabling women to take an active role in their own care and treatment journeys,” Springer-Marcotte said.
For information, visit breastcancercoach.com, email [email protected] or call (352) 780-1956.
“There’s a tremendous gap between the physician who gives the diagnosis and the woman and where she stands with it emotionally and physically — and someone needs to bridge that gap,” Ivanov said.