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Decatur doctor talks about her own health scare, encourages women to stop and listen to their bodies

In our weekly Health Matters series, you've been hearing about how Greg Screws and Jerry Hayes are getting healthy.  But this segment isn't about them.

Dr. Tom-meka Archinard treated Greg when he went to the emergency room for blood clot treatment.  Little did he know, she had a health scare of her own.

Dr. Archinard is loved.  She's also courageous and brave.  In 2013, her world didn't provide for much spare time.  She had a family and medical responsibilities across the country.

"I was going from New York to Louisiana with five different emergency departments. I don't have time to deal with it," she told us.

'It' wouldn't go away.  "I started getting aches and pains, feeling run down, getting severe back pain... sciatica that would last for eight weeks and in between all that I actually interview for this job," she recalled.


The position -- the ER medical director at Decatur-Morgan and Clearview Hospital.   She would get the job... but those aches and pains -- the 'it' was still there.

"My now 5-year-old son -- he was 1 1/2 at the time," Dr. Archinard recalled.  "I was laying on the sofa and he ran up and hit me, and he hit me in the right breast... and the pain I felt was so excruciating, I remember grabbing myself and saying I have to do something about this."

Her diagnosis was Stage 2 breast cancer, two and half months from the job at Decatur-Morgan.

We asked her what that moment was like.

"It's empty. It's quiet. And it's chaotic at the same time," she recalled.  "I remember thinking, looking at it and thinking... and in my silence heard myself say 'what was I thinking?"

The doctor needed a game plan for the fight.  She changed her diet, started exercising and underwent bilateral mastectomies.

"I had my first chemo in New York, and that doctor called and set me up with a doctor here, and I came in here and didn't miss a beat," Dr. Archinard said.

She was diagnosed in June of 2013 on her birthday, and completed her treatment four months later.

"Your life has meaning to people you know... and to people you have no idea," she told us. "My friends... my friends... my friends... I had people rooting me that I had no idea."

Dr. Archinard shows us the pink scrubs friends signed for her to show support.

Dr. Archinard shows us the pink scrubs friends signed for her to show support.

"People from Virginia to New Jersey to New York to Alabama to Louisiana and they took the time to sign these scrubs and put them in a mailbox and mail them."

What advice does she have now for other women pressed for time with work and family?

"Embrace the journey. Feel the pain.  Feel the triumph. And don't let yourself stop."

Dr. Archinard's advice to other women in a similar place is to not be afraid and face any challenge -- head on.  She also says, the support from her Decatur-Morgan Hospital family made her journey much easier.