Marlboro native raises awareness as battle with cancer continues

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MARLBORO – A Marlboro native has been honored by Mayor Jonathan Hornik and the members of the Township Council as she battles metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and continues to raise awareness of the disease.

Tami Eagle-Bowling of Scotch Plains was recognized during the May 16 council meeting. She was diagnosed with stage IV MBC in 2015.

“I had a clean bill of health, a high energy job in media, and was a mom to two small children,” Eagle-Bowling said, “I had just done a boot camp class before my mammogram.”

She said the cancer had already spread to her liver and surgery was not an option.

Since receiving her diagnosis, Eagle-Bowling has spent time educating others about MBC and methods of treatment, mentoring patients, and raising more than $50,000 a year for research grants specific to stage IV treatment.

Eagle-Bowling advocates for the national organization METAvivor Research and Support, a volunteer-led nonprofit organization that funds research to help improve the longevity and quality of life for MBC patients.

Eagle-Bowling spoke about her friend, Monica Zealand-Hill of Maplewood, who was diagnosed with MBC at age 33 and raised more than $350,000 in the 22 months that followed. Zealand-Hill died in April, leaving behind her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

In Zealand-Hill’s memory, Eagle-Bowling co-founded the METAvivors of NJ Facebook group with Lauren O’Brien, a community organizer and campaigner who founded the Union County chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in 2015.

“Tami is incredibly inspiring and was definitely accomplishing a lot independently, but I knew creating a statewide cohort would really empower her cause,” O’Brien said. “I recommended creating a Facebook group so MBC-affected communities all around us could not only join our calls to action and events, but we could also centralize updated information.”

Hornik and the Marlboro council members honored Eagle-Bowling with a proclamation which recognized her work to bring attention to MBC.

“None of us will go through life without cancer affecting us in some way,” Hornik said. “We would like to think we are lucky if it doesn’t present in your life in some way, shape or form, but it’s going to happen. I say that in a way of concern and justification for what we do on a local level and for what Tami is doing.

“Raising awareness about diseases allows people to raise funding to find cures for those diseases. We have to take the time to make sure we all spread the word of causes like this and to donate when able.

“As a society, we have the means and the technology to find those cures. We just have to find the perseverance to get it done. I appreciate all that Tami has done to raise awareness for this disease, despite her own personal struggles,” Hornik said.

“So many friends and family members ask how they can help,” Eagle-Bowling said. “Our page offers several ways to be actively involved. It was important to me that this group was not about discussing side effects and medical details, but to share steps that can propel MBC to becoming a chronic disease instead of a deadly one.”

For more information, visit METAvivors of NJ on Facebook or www.metavivor.org