Survivor Profile: Tamika Cook

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Tamika Cook

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Tamika Cook Cook's daughter, Zakiiyah, was 9 when she wrote her mother an encouraging letter and called her "the strongest mommy I know." It makes her laugh even now, because "I'm the only  mommy she knows. It just made me not give up."  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Tamika Cook Cook's daughter, Zakiiyah, was 9 when she wrote her mother an encouraging letter and called her "the strongest mommy I know." It makes her laugh even now, because "I'm the only mommy she knows. It just made me not give up."

"There were days I wanted to give up. But my kids -- I wanted to see my kids grow up. They were so young."

HER BACKGROUND

AGE: 36

FAMILY: Husband, Lee; daughter, Zakiiyah, 17; son, Zaire, 13

OCCUPATION: Desk operations specialist at the Medical College of Georgia

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: Aug. 27, 2001; mastectomy

HER STORY

Cook was first angry then scared when she was told at 26 that she had breast cancer. She had found a lump while she was shaving her armpits and mentioned it to a nurse she works with, who suggested she have it checked out.

She had a mastectomy the day before her 28th birthday. Because it was caught early, Cook did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

Her daughter, Zakiiyah, gave her a pink rubber band that says, "You're the strongest mommy that I have and I love you."

Now she worries about Zakiiyah, who will graduate high school this year. She's taught her to do self-exams and makes sure she gets her checkups.

"It's kind of scary watching her mature into a woman," Cook said. "I'd really hate to have her have to hear those words."

HER ADVICE

"Pray a lot," Cook said. "Don't give up. Surround (yourselves) with friends and family."

 
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