My name is Tara. I am a mom to two busy sporty kids, wife to a firefighter, and I own a beauty business in which I help women feel more confident and beautiful in their own skin.
I’ve got kinda a crazy story so get ready, lol. I’ve always been super active and very into health and wellness. I was a professional figure competitor, pediatric RN, and personal trainer. In 2017, my aunt was the third sister in my moms family to be diagnosed with breast cancer and because of her I had testing for a genetic mutation. Sure enough I tested positive for the brca2 mutation. Fairly quickly I had a preventative double mastectomy and Fallopian tube removal. Felt amazing and so empowered. In early 2018 I had my reconstruction and thought I had conquered the world honestly. But later that summer I started having discomfort in my mouth of all places. I was getting daily headaches and just a different feeling in my body. Nothing I could really pinpoint, but I knew I felt different.
By August of 2018 I had small cut on my tongue, a sore throat and a dull ache in my ear. I went back and forth to my family doctor and dentist to help pin point exactly what was going on. Neither of them could figure it out and brushed it off as needing a root canal from a chipped tooth that was probably causing inflammation. I thought that was pretty silly and held off on the root canal until November. By then the headaches were so bad, and they were saying the headaches were probably from grinding my teeth. Well as someone with a high pain tolerance I just couldn’t figure out what was causing this debilitating pain. Shortly after the root canal I had developed a sore on my tongue. And in that moment I knew exactly what it was. I sat my husband down, told him I thought I might have cancer. So another month of me going to the dentist and doctor and they kept telling me it was infection. Well by December 2018 we finally got the diagnosis of malignant tongue cancer!!
The girl who has never smoked a day in her life got oral cancer! Pretty crazy right?
Soon after came multiple surgeries and head and neck radiation. Thought I was totally done with treatment and then had a follow up pet scan, and they found it spread to my lung. So more surgeries and then the dreaded chemotherapy treatment plan.
Hair loss crossed my mind for a whole five minutes and then I quickly reminded myself that this could help me live and be with my family rather than let this disease wreck more havoc. I didn’t start losing my hair until probably fourteen days after my first chemo treatment. It started as a slow process of losing strands here and there, to then losing it all over the place. We joked that I left a little hair everywhere I went, even if it was the school parking lot, my sons baseball field, the grocery store, my hair was all over.
And that’s when I found my love for scarves. I found a women on Etsy who made scarves that had scrunchies to help tie them up and make them look stylish. I had so many compliments that I honestly didn’t care about losing my beautiful and once healthy hair. The scarves were so fun and fashionable. I rocked them until about three months after chemo ended and then started enjoying my new little fuzzy hairs that were coming in. And now just over a year later I have a short little Bob cut that I totally love. It’s been a fun process to grow my hair back. We put some blonde highlights in and it’s been a super fun experience.
My best advice is to remind yourself that hair is really not that important. Life, family, health, these things are important. Losing our hair is a small portion of what’s really going on. I truly believe our minds are key to getting through a cancer diagnosis. To help myself flip that positivity switch, making myself feel good on the outside helped me feel good on the inside too. Even on the days I felt awful after treatment I would get up, I would do a light workout like walking or yoga. And then I would apply some makeup and get that scarf on and feel totally in charge and amazing. Sometimes a little boost like that can change your entire day.