At first, Tanis Milicevic’s local doctor told her to wait and see. Pregnant with her second child, Tanis had been sensitive about changes in her body when she felt a worrisome bump on the back of her head.
The doctor’s advice gave her temporary peace — the bump was small and she could just monitor it. Then, after her baby’s first birthday, Tanis felt a lump in her underarm.
“That’s when I knew that something was not right,” she says. Although she otherwise felt fine, her instincts about her health were correct. A biopsy showed she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Tanis and her husband, Marko, learned that while her disease was slow growing at this stage, it would also be hard to cure. “It was a difficult pill to swallow, but we remained optimistic. You live life and push forward,” Marko says. They had to for their sons, 1-year-old Jonathon and 8-year-old Max.
Tanis, then 44, underwent radiation and then chemotherapy for two years. The treatments kept the cancer in remission for five years. It freed her to focus on her family and her business, a women’s contemporary fashion boutique. When the cancer returned, Tanis came to Mayo Clinic.