Survivor of the Week: Tara Stone
Tara Stone from Northville, MI is Ellen's Survivor of the Week. Tara wrote a moving "Letter to Cancer" that we wanted to share with you. Thanks for your bravery, Tara.
"Cancer, you came like a thief in the night. You came to kill me, but that was thwarted so you decided to maim instead. Your agenda was quite clear, your weapons effective, your tactics fierce. However, I must inform you that your plan was all wrong. You thought you could destroy me by stealing my womanly essence. For you thought, surely without it you would have my spirit in bondage… surely you could still win. Oh, how you underestimated this female warrior. Oh yes you did! You can take my thick, wavy, flowing hair and still I will stand tall with head high. You can take my long lashes and perfectly shaped brows and still I will look others in the eye. You can take my healthy and clear complexion and replace it with pallor and still I will glow. You can put dark circles under my eyes and rim them in red and still I will see the goodness in others. You can fill my mouth with sores and still I will smile. You can damage the nerves of my tongue and still I will sing. You can stiffen my joints and emaciate my muscle and still I will dance. You can numb my hands and arms and still I will reach to embrace. You can make my legs weak and knock me down 1000x and still I will get up. You can take my energy, give me fatigue and exhaustion and still I will count my blessings. You can put fluid on my heart and mess up the beat and still I will love. You can send fog in my brain and dull my thoughts and still I will be at peace."
When were you diagnosed?
Are you cancer-free? If so, for how long?
I am cancer free for 5 months since double mastectomy and lymphs removed.
How have your family and friends helped you?
My family and friends have been amazing. I started a carepage shortly after being diagnosed and it has been invaluable this past year.
What tips do you have to help other breast cancer survivors stay positive?
You most always remember to live in the present moment. I remind people that if this is really all the time we get, why would we waste it being mean, bitter and alone? Reach out and love people like you never have. Let others help. Rely on humor.
What has someone done to make you feel better?
So much, really. Words of encouragement on carepages, gift packages, going to chemo with me, bringing soup, shaving head in solidarity, massages, and just sitting and talking and laughing!!
What advice would you give someone who is about to go through treatment?
Ask alot of questions. It is so overwhelming with all the information thrown at you. Talk to your chemo nurses about how you feel, what side effects you are experiencing. They were my biggest heroes through all of this.
What was the scariest moment?
Being told I had an aggressive and advanced cancer and that they couldn't do the surgery until I did 5 months of chemo first to kill back some of the cancer. And entering that chemo unit for the first time and getting infused with toxins.
What was the funniest moment?
So many, really. My partner, John and daughter Lizz would go to chemo with me and we would laugh and make others around us laugh too!
How has breast cancer made you stronger?
It has made me slow down, enjoy the present moment and take nothing for granted. I can truly say cancer saved my life!