I met Tarah Harvey through the Kick Ass Cancer Mamas. Here is her story…
Tell us your story / stats:
I was 32 diagnosed stage 4 from the start. I found my lump while breastfeeding my 8 month old son. My daughter had turned 4 two weeks prior, and I had no lymphnode involvement. I had mets to bones- my spine, pelvis, and left arm.
C aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I love people, being with friends and family. I love the sun, the beach, and my babies. I’m from Kansas originally but live in Texas and love it here. I live my life one day at a time.
What went through your head when you were first diagnosed?
I thought I’d die within the year. I was terrified, and knew absolutely nothing about metastatic breast cancer.
What are some of your personal coping skills during difficult times?
I lean into God, meditate a lot, and talk about it out loud. I don’t hold it in. If I do then I start to get a lot of anxiety, and it’s very therapeutic for me to talk about MBC to my friends and family and educate them about what a huge gap there is in funding for treatment and a cure from the only stage of breast cancer that kills.
Tell us about your support system. Or lack of.
My family and friends are amazing. It’s all about quality, not quantity. I have the best friends and family I could ever ask for. And to add to that I’ve connected with some amazing women through support groups who are friends now. People who had I met in any regular circumstance, I’d still be friends with. The biggest silver lining to this whole mess is that I’ve seem how amazing humanity really is.
Many people are unaware that you can do chemotherapy while pregnant. Thoughts and personal experience?
I was diagnosed postpartum, but had stage 4 cancer while pregnant, but didnt know about it yet. But I know there is a lot of research and proof that it is safe under certain circumstances and conditions. Hope for Two is a wonderful organization that have been amazing to a lot of my friends.
What have you learned about yourself since dx?
That I am much more resilient that I ever thought.
What do you believe is a common misconception about being diagnosed? Or something that you’d like the general population to know about C.
It’s not an old person disease. And the younger you are the more aggressive it can be. There are so many young people being stolen from metastatic cancer. We need more research, more options for treatments.
Thoughts on the pink…
Pink is not the cure to cancer. Think before you pink!! So many organizations profit off breast cancer, and never donate any portion of what you buy to any organization. Metavivor is completely run by volunteers and all donations go towards stage 4 breast cancer research.
Where are you at in life now? Mentally, physically, emotionally…
I’m in a pretty good place right now. I had a progression scare recently and it caused a lot of anxiety. I am one doctors appointment, one day, one pain away from progression, which is one step closer to this nasty disease stealing me away from my family, from my babies who need me. We need more options.
Do you have any lasting side effects- mental, physical, etc.?
I will be in treatment until cancer kills me or I die of something else. I have pretty bad joint and bone pain in my feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, and wrists. It can be very painful just to stand up and start walking. The lack of estrogen in my body causes this and my current treatment amplifies it.
Have you noticed any lasting effects on your families and friends?
Cancer completely stresses and scares all those who love me. We just have to take a deep breath and keep moving forward. Cancer has taken enough from me. I refuse to allow it to steal my joy and appreciation of life.
If you could send a message to yourself from 10 years ago… how would that go?
If you’re alive, it’s a miracle from God and remember to be grateful. Continue to use your time to help others and enjoy every second you are gifted.
What are you passionate about? Is this different than what you were passionate about before dx?
I am passionate about educating people about MBC. The lack of knowledge that people have is so sad. Breast cancer has been dressed up in pink boas with pink parties, and dancing at the end of a race. And that isn’t the reality of it. Metastatic breast cancer doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, how well or unwell you’ve lived your life. How great your will to live is. Metastatic breast cancer is a thief, and everybody needs to know the truth so we can start to change the view of this awful disease.
Do you have any short term or long term goals that you are actively working towards?
I only have short term goals. The life expectancy of somebody with MBC is less than three years. I’m two years in right now. I want to see my daughter graduate from kinder this year, I want my son to have memories of me.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word?
Nevertheless She Persisted. This is my mantra and how I live my life. I will keep getting back up until I can’t.
Whenever the day comes to travel to the “great beyond”, what do you hope people remember about you?
How much I love my children, how I lived life, and how I loved to have fun. I love laughing, and being with people I love. I give 100% every day, and just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I’m not there.
Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments/memories? The raw side of C.
The worst is hurting so bad, being so tired that I can hardly get out of bed, let alone take care of my kids. I rely a lot on my husband and mom with the kids.
What’s the latest happenings in your life now?
I’m being featured on Story Half Told this year. I’m still working full time, travelling as much as possible, and just living life.
If people take away anything from your story, it would be…
Don’t ever count yourself out. You’ll surprise yourself with what you’re made of. Just keep livin!