Laying on the couch one night, I had found what felt like a frozen pea near my armpit. I knew it was not normal and was able to get in to see my family doctor the next day. He started measuring from the lump to my nipple and I thought he had lost his mind!! What was he doing?? I just turned 35, no family history of breast cancer…why in the world would he think there was a connection!?!

I was so convinced that it had nothing to do with breast cancer that when I had my biopsy, I told them they could just call with the results. Three days later I answered the phone and my life changed forever.

The next few days were a blur as I realized everything is getting ready to change in my life and I had no control over any of it. It was doctor apt after doctor apt! I felt like I was coming and going but I knew I had to be my own health care advocate and this was just the beginning! Because of dense tissue my lump in my breast was NOT detected by the mammo, but by the MRI! I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and it was a Grade 3, which had already spread to one lymph node, that is the lump I found!

Once we knew what we were fighting, my world was moving even faster! I started Chemo in March and finished in July. The doctors were amazed how well I did and that I was still able to work throughout the treatments.

After the 5 months of chemo was the bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, I was off work for 8 weeks to heal. My cancer was a Stage 2, but since it was so aggressive we fought it like it was Stage 3. At one of my check-ups after surgery, my oncologist said she was sending me to a radiation oncologist to see if I needed radiation. I was in shock! This I the first I had heard of having to do this! I thought I was done! So again, I had to get my head on straight and go back to battle! Radiation started in November and my last one was December 22….Best Christmas Present EVER!

I survived because of the love and support of my amazing family, friends and coworkers! I was strong because of them! From the beginning I knew I had WAY too much to live for and I wasn’t going down without a fight….and fight is what I did, with a SMILE on my face! Cancer took my breast and hair…. But I would NOT allow it to take my Smile. I am stronger because of Cancer, I see things so much differently and appreciate so much more! Before cancer I was just going through the motions, but now I live each day to the fullest! I had cancer…it NEVER had me!

Advice from Tara
Be your health care advocate!

Read other stories