Tammy Wynn, 55, has always been resourceful, taking the
worst in every situation and trying to turn it into something that would help
her grow and improve.
She used the 2004 death of her father, while painful, as an
opportunity to help others in need of comfort.
"Reflecting on the amazing experience we had while my father
was in hospice, I realized that this was the kind of care needed when I lost my
cat Cagney—like ‘Cagney and Lacey’—a year before that,” she says. "Fortunately,
my dad left me his entrepreneurial genes because in 2004 pet hospice did not
"As a licensed human therapist of 30 years, I decided to
work at Hospice of Cincinnati to gain experience and then at the age of 50 to
get my veterinarian technician degree. I opened Angel’s Paws, a company that
provides hospice care and support for pets and their owners, in 2010.”
Wynn says the mission of this organization is to help people
by connecting them to the support and resources needed for the loss or
impending loss of a beloved pet.
"So far, we’ve helped 1,500 pets and owners,” she says.
"This was my divine calling that was planted in my heart. Every part of it has
been perfectly aligned … even my breast cancer diagnosis.”
In 2012, Wynn found a lump in her armpit and asked her
gynecologist if she needed to be concerned; however, she was told that it was
most likely just a fat pocket.
"I went for a second opinion and heard the same thing, so
along with normal mammography results, I thought I was fine,” she says. "For a
whole year, I was oblivious to the fact that it was advanced cancer and that it
During this time, Wynn says she started to feel fatigued,
which was uncommon for her, but she attributed it to the hard work that goes
into running a business, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One evening, while
sitting on the couch, she noticed a lump in her neck.
"I knew that it probably wasn’t a good sign,” she says.
This is where Wynn says divine influence occurred again when
she connected with an old colleague who had since joined the UC Cancer
Institute’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer team working with Elizabeth
Shaughnessy, MD, PhD.
"She told me to see the breast team at the institute because
they were the best, and I believed her,” she says. "Now, I know first-hand that
Wynn saw Elyse Lower, MD, director of the breast cancer
center and oncologist, who put her on chemotherapy, Herceptin and Perjeta, a new
treatment at the time that had just gained FDA approval.
"It was a more targeted treatment and had just been approved
for metastatic cancers—so my missed diagnosis was a blessing because that
therapy wouldn’t have been available to me had I been diagnosed earlier,” she
Wynn continues with chemotherapy that is working, and she
says she is doing well and feels better than she has in a long time. She’s
scheduled for a double mastectomy this month with radiation to follow.
"This journey is all part of the plan,” Wynn explains,
adding that she’s now able to understand her business in a way she was never before
able. "I’m the sick pet in the scenario, and I’m watching my fiancé, John,
become the caregiver, who is suffering in a way that I am not. It’s given me a
new perspective and understanding about what these pet parents are going
"This journey also led me to a tremendous care team that is
helping me beat cancer. Dr. Lower is fantastic and the whole team is positive,
helpful, knowledgeable and kind; I couldn’t ask for any better.”
To find out more about Angel’s Paws, visit www.angelspaws.com.