Tara Diagnosed at 26

"If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to surround yourself with women who are going through it."

On 09/25/2017 my world came crashing down. I heard the words, "I'm 95% sure it's cancer," as I was sitting in the breast center after an ultrasound and mammogram. I found a lump in March of 2015 after a yoga conference, and my OBGYN dismissed it as nothing. On 09/30/2015 I was diagnosed with stage 2a triple positive breast cancer. I was 26 years old. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to surround yourself with women who are going through it. I called my mom in Reno, NV to tell her the news on a Friday night, and she was on my couch in San Diego Saturday morning. She rented a house two blocks away from me and my boyfriend so she could help take care of me. I don’t know what I would have done without my family and loving partner. However, once I began surrounding myself with other survivors, I found hope. They were the only ones who truly understood what I was going through. Therefore, I encourage you to reach out to other women who have traveled this path.

After my diagnosis, I was thrusted into the world of countless doctor's appointments and tests. I took two months to myself to soul search to decide if chemo was the right thing for me. I refused to be a statistic and wasn’t going to just do whatever the doctors said. I became my own advocate. I have always been very holistic and decided on taking an integrative treatment approach. I completed six rounds of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (TCHP), a double mastectomy with tissue expanders, reconstruction surgery, and a recent revision surgery, along with a year of Herceptin infusions, and now tamoxifen. Into my treatment plan, I also incorporated yoga, meditation, sensory deprivation, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, reiki, crystal healing, CBD oil, and cannabis. I remember logging onto YSC after receiving a pamphlet from my doctor. I was scared shitless. I started reading these stories of encouragement, knowing one day, I would get to the other side. Little did I know that cancer would transform me into the most beautiful warrior goddess. I was stripped down to my core, and while navigating through my most vulnerable state, I was able to emerge a renewed woman. I refuse to capitalize cancer, as I will not give it any power over me.

Before I was diagnosed, I was contemplating law school. Now, I will be opening up my own yoga healing business. Being 26 years old and in a relationship, I wasn’t sure how I would get through it all. I had so much to think about. I decided to forgo fertility treatments due to the fact that I don’t really want children and could always adopt. Being triple positive, I didn’t want to flood my body with more hormones. It is a very personal decision. I went with my gut when it came to deciding between a double mastectomy and lumpectomy. I urge every woman to be their own advocate. I am now much more aware of my body and health. I am officially healed, healthy, and whole. The photo I've attached is of me in the temple at Burning Man. I burned my "dear breast cancer" letter engraved on wood, along with my bras. If I can find healing, so can you. No mud no lotus, right?

Are you a survivor, spouse, friend, or caretaker with a story to tell? We'd love to hear from you.

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