West Michigan mother "knocks out" breast cancer

FFL: Mother's Day fighter

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - When Tamika Birch found a lump during a breast self exam, she didn't wait.  With a family history of breast cancer she knew.  "You can't be scared early detection is the the key," says Birch.  She was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer last October and she made a decision, "I'm whooping cancer's butt." 

Tamika has four children between the ages of eight and 22 and she says that's what kept her going.  On the days she couldn't get out of bed after chemotherapy, she would look at her children and she know she had no choice but to keep going.  Of her four children only Kori, her oldest daughter knew.

Kori Boyd said, "I need my Mom here so what can I do to help her get through this?"  

The roles between mother and daughter reversed.  Kori took care of her mother.  "My mom's my best friend and to see her go through it, I thought she was gonna be sad so that's why I did all the support things", says Boyd.

But Tamika, who's called "Sassy" by her nurses, decided to be just that, instead of sad.  

She got pink boxing gloves to help her knock out cancer that say "Tamika Strong."  When she decided to tell everyone about her breast cancer, she did it with a photo shoot in downtown Grand Rapids.  "I wanted to come out, but I didn't want to come out sad.  I didn't want people to be sad, depressed, so I wanted to do some pictures, some fun pictures, not sad pictures."  Her family and friends are with her in the photographs.

Tamika and Kori say this is going to be an extra special Mother's Day.  Kori says, "It's probably the most important Mother's Day that I've ever had.  To be grown and see my Mom go through this, I appreciate this."  And Tamika says, "I love living life.  I love my kids. My kids are my life."

Tamika recently finished chemotherapy and later this month she'll undergo a double mastectomy.  As an added bonus she says she going to do something for herself.

"I going to have a tummy tuck." 

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