Tarah was just 27 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a mother to a 19-month-old son at the time and she remembers feeling like the world was crashing down around her. Through a difficult 2012, Tarah remained positive, determined to beat cancer so she would be there for her family.
Now, Tarah is cancer-free and is working as a project manager in her family’s company. Tarah is eager to help raise awareness of breast cancer and research – to help give young women more options and address some of the issues that they face being diagnosed much earlier in life. Read her letter to her 2030 self below.
To my dearest Tarah,
You are now 45 years-old! Wow girlfriend, you made it. I am so proud of you. 18 years in remission. Your remission is old enough to have a glass of wine! I know there were times you thought you wouldn’t reach your 40s. February 29, 2012. You were only 27 years old. It was the day you walked into a doctor’s room to find out that ‘weird lump’ was breast cancer. No, not just a lump, like all the other benign lumps before it. It was different, it felt different, it looked different. Thankfully you listened to that inner voice. Aren’t you glad you listen to your own advice now?
‘Your results are back, and it appears you have breast cancer.’ Remember that feeling? You’ll never forget that feeling, will you? I still remember it all these years later. At such a young age, you had Stage 3 breast cancer AND any plans you had for more children needed to be put on hold.
You immediately thought I’m ‘too young’, ‘too healthy’, ‘too fit’ and you were a new mum! Our son was only a one-year-old. You started writing letters and recording video diaries to help him (and his dad), navigate life without you in their future.
Your treatment was harsh. It took your breasts and your hair and there were times you couldn’t recognise yourself. You didn’t let it define you, though. In fact, you grew stronger. Even a double mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and hormone treatment could not weaken your spirit. Physically, your body was frail and pale, but your mind was on a cancer-free future.
Then, in 2017, you had a second baby. Your body went from dealing with a life-threatening disease to giving life to your daughter. I know having another child seemed like an impossible dream BUT you did it. You completed your little family knowing your future was now positive.
As I stand here in 2030… I want you to know, the world has changed. Thanks to ongoing research, and people like you – who openly shared your story, your experience, your challenges – there are no longer any deaths from breast cancer. You helped the National Breast Cancer Foundation reach its goal. It is a disease no longer feared. It won’t rob anyone from watching their children grow up.
Writing to you as a wiser (and 10 year older) version of yourself, I want to remind you to enjoy life, especially your wrinkles. There was a time you didn’t think you would ever be old enough to grow them. Put those letters you wrote to the children away. You will see them graduate, get married and give birth to your grandchildren. You can deliver your messages in person. You can tell them and show them every day how much they are loved and how they inspired you to a cancer-free future.
Be proud of yourself. You won the fight of your life against breast cancer. You did it for your family and most importantly, you did it for you.