Member Stories: Meet Tara

October 1, 2023

Ms. October's story is lovingly sponsored by Robert Council

The theme of A Calendar to Live By 2023 is In Her Own Words. All 12 women who grace its pages have honest, inspiring stories written in their own words to share with readers -- as well as words of advice for other young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Read on to get to know more about Ms. October 2023.

Ms. October 2023 | Diagnosed at 33 (2018)

In April of 2018, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I had just moved cross-country to Virginia with my husband and one-year-old daughter. The following month encompassed scans, blood work, second opinions, and genetic testing in which I learned I am BRCA2 positive. Empowered with knowledge, I decided on a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using implants. A sentinel node biopsy showed that the cancer had begun to spread making chemotherapy a necessity. After 16 rounds of chemo, I completed my treatment in December of 2018. Celebration was in order! But then a realization that I wasn't really finished hit. Since my diagnosis, I have had two reconstruction surgeries and a hysterectomy/oophorectomy. I am on daily medications for hormone suppression and hot flashes, and I meet with my care team regularly. The funny thing about cancer is it never truly leaves. Survivors are left wondering... if not now, when? I finished chemo and was proclaimed cancer-free but then came the part where I had to put myself back together. I will tell you that I am not the same person I was before but wouldn't trade the person that I am today with my pre-diagnosed self. I really like who I have become. I am a bit tougher (in the good ways), more direct, and more honest with myself. I know who I am, and despite being covered in scars (which I am proud of every single one), I have never felt more comfortable in my skin. Cancer is NOT getting the credit for all the good in my life. I credit perspective, attitude, support, sisterhood, and mindfulness for bringing me where I am today! And the tribe of incredible women from H4TG who understood what I felt. Women who I could unload my deepest fears and pains and know that they had been there as well. Through them, I discovered that there are incredible people out there who are willing to walk hand in hand, through the darkness  with one another and that is beautiful!

ADVICE: Don’t wait to be the person you want to be.



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