VAN BUREN, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — Breast cancer is a disease that can strike with no warning. That’s the case for Tiffany Rose from Van Buren, who is overcoming her second battle with the disease.
“It wasn’t anything that I ever dreamed would happen to me,” she said.
Tiffany never thought she would have to deal with breast cancer.
“My grandmother had breast cancer when she was about 80. They didn’t really consider that to be a family history,” she said. “No one else in my family had it, and I was young. I was active and healthy.”
But in November 2020, she found a lump on her breast during a self breast exam. A diagnosis from Dr. Daniel Mackey at Mercy Oncology in Fort Smith confirmed the worst.
“We decided to just throw everything at it that we could,” she said. “So we did eight rounds of chemotherapy and I had a double mastectomy. At the end, after we got the pathology report, we found out that the cancer was gone.”
With three young kids, she said it was difficult to explain the changes the treatment would cause.
“We told them, kind of, what to expect, that I was going to lose my hair and be tired, but that we were going to go get through it,” she said. “We just tried to be as positive as we could.”
Tiffany’s husband, State Rep. Ryan Rose, said they couldn’t have gotten through it without the help of others.
“One of the greatest things we had was we had such a wonderful network of friends and family, and I think we’ve remained grateful for that,” he said.
After beating the cancer, things went back to normal for the Rose family. Tiffany’s hair grew back and they tried to move on.
“I was finally at a place in life where I just wasn’t thinking about cancer every day,” she said.
That all changed in February 2023.
“I found a lump in the same same place as the last time and so my heart just sank,” she said. “Being diagnosed one time with cancer is horrible. But the second time, it’s unthinkable to have to go through it again.”
Both times they caught it fast and acted fast, which is something they are grateful for.
“Had she waited, I think she may have had an appointment scheduled out months. It would have been too late,” said Ryan. “I don’t think we can stress the importance of trusting your instincts going to see your doctor.”
“Breast cancer is common and the headline is, it is curable,” said Mackey.
The Roses went back to Mackey at Mercy Oncology in Fort Smith, and they went back to battle again.
“Once you’ve had one cancer, there’s always that chance it’s going to come back,” he said. “That’s the importance of going in for your routine visits.”
He said women should start getting yearly mammograms starting at age 50, but at age 40, they should start talking with their primary care physician about getting regular mammograms.
He said he is glad to see that mammogram numbers have bounced back since the end of the pandemic. Those numbers went down during the pandemic as people stayed home and elective procedures were put on hold, which was a big concern for doctors who treat breast cancer.
“We offer screening, mammography, ultrasounds, MRI. We also offer excellent medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology services,” he said. “Finally, we also offer genetic testing.”
When the time came for Tiffany to lose her hair again, the Rose family took it into their own hands in a fun way.
“We got into the kitchen together and the kids spray painted my hair pink, and then they just took turns giving me just a fun haircut,” she said.
Thirty rounds of chemotherapy later and Tiffany got to bang the gong again after finishing treatment at the beginning of September. Now she’s waiting to have her next PET scan.
“We are hoping that that will confirm what we’ve been praying for and believing that we’ll have a clearer PET scan for the first time since all of this started. So I’m anxiously awaiting that,” she said.
“We want to hear the words ‘no evidence of disease,'” added Ryan.
He said this is an experience he takes with him to the statehouse as the Republican representative for District 28.
KNWA/FOX24 conducted this interview before he announced his campaign to run for re-election.
“I found myself on the public health committee,” he said. “Everything that had to do with cancer, this session would come through there. I think it gives us a little bit of a different perspective to ask more in depth questions.”
He said his family knows first hands the challenges that can come with navigating insurance and making sure the families can pay for cancer care that’s needed.
“I want to make it easier for families going through cancer because the last thing you need to do is be fighting with your insurance provider, or me having to raise $3,000 before you can have a surgery or any number of things like that,” he said.
Tiffany is the mom to two daughters. She said she has done the genetic testing at Mercy and found that she is negative for the BRCA gene, but she still plans to make sure they know what breast cancer is.
“I think it’s important to, as they get older, just to teach them the signs to look for, things like that, just to prevent as much as possible,” she said.
Ryan shared their journey with his followers on social media. He wants to say “thank you” for all the support that they got.
“I think it reached almost a million people, and you’ll get comments and people saying they’re praying,” he said. “The prayerful support has worked.”