CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Tammy Cavazos is a survivor. From enduring months of chemotherapy and radiology, as well as undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and a partial removal of her lymph nodes, Cavazos' sacrifice and determination helped her beat Stage 4 breast cancer.
"I thought my battle was finished," Cavazos said. "At that point I thought, 'God's blessed me, I'm cancer free.'"
However, her fight isn't over yet. Cavazos is now battling lymphedema. Doctors said when she had her lymphnodes removed during her cancer treatment, it compromised her body's ability to manage her water weight and filter toxins.
She recalls what happened during her first attack.
"I had a fever of 104. I had welts all over my body and I was kind of delirious," Cavazos said. "I didn't know what had happened."
Surgery like Cavazos' is not the only gateway to the disorder. Simple movements such as tugging, moderate to heavy lifting and even jumping can trigger the condition in a person.
"That's what happened. It was the simplest thing. I was lifting something that was too heavy, I felt something pop," Cavazos said. "That night at like three o'clock in the morning, my arm like grew."
Her right arm had swelled almost three times its normal size.
Medical experts said developing the condition, which the main symptom is swelling of the arm or leg, is preventable but currently not curable. It has been about a year and a half since Cavazos' arm has been its normal size.
Cavazos said it has changed the comfort of how her clothes fit, prevented her from fully enjoying hobbies she once loved like tubing and swimming -- even basic daily activities are different.
"Now I'm trying to learn how to eat with my left hand," Cavazos said. "Do more with my left hand."
Cavazos has daily therapy to help reduce the inflammation and uses caution with any activity requiring excessive motion or heavy lifting. Despite the change in her physical appearance and the challenge of staying healthy, Cavazos said her main focus is to enjoy her family to the fullest and says that should be the most important thing to anyone who is in a situation similar to hers.
"I wake up every morning and I thank God that I'm here and that now I've been blessed with a grandchild," Cavazos said.
If you missed Part 1 of this Positively Pink Survivor's Series, watch below:
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