Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tarah Warren

My name is Tarah Warren, and I’m a Stage IV Ovarian Cancer Survivor. I was diagnosed with metastasized Ovarian Cancer in November of 2012, and since then endured two surgeries and sixteen months of chemo. Everybody knows cancer is a strenuous and excruciating battle, but you don’t truly understand the strength it takes to keep fighting until you are in the midst of the battle. After two surgeries my oncologist directed me to Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy, which she said could double my life expectancy. The only problem, it’s much more intensive and nausea inducing because they pump the chemo directly into your abdomen through a port tied to your rib. During my chemo the effort it took to open doors, or just get out of bed was almost more than what’d become my 90lb frame could endure. Despite the rigorous and painful battle, each day I made a conscious effort to fight the cancer with all the tenacity I could, and I was blessed with prayers and support from many around the country who reminded me of my cancer slogan “Fight Like a Girl”!
I’m now a year out of chemo, cancer free, and proud to say the Director and Founder of a 501c3, OKC based charity, Tenaciously Teal (T. Teal). T. Teal is a Non-Profit dedicated to meeting the needs of cancer fighters through gas/meal cards, distributing Cancer Care Packs, and throwing private Brave Shave parties for those facing hair loss to cancer treatment. T. Teal grew out of my desire to spread hope and light to many I observed who were in the midst of darkness, a good description for a cancer battle. T. Teal evolved over time, but started with a Tenaciously Teal blogspot where I wrote about life, God, and Cancer. Teal is the color for Ovarian Cancer Awareness a color intended to bring awareness to a disease 1 and 73 women will be diagnosed with in their lifetime. After my second surgery, I spent a week in the hospital, and was encouraged to walk as much as I could. While I perused the hallways to maintain my strength, I was in awe of how many people around me who were grappling with a cancer diagnosis. A poignant moment in my fight was the realization many were battling with little to NO support, which is when I became determined to spread hope in a tangible way.
During my chemo treatment I started bringing a few “Cancer Care Packs” to patients I came across who were in need. I sold many teal bracelets and t-shirts, and used the money to purchase items to put in the Care Packs. A Care Pack included things I utilized during my own fight; hand sanitizer, protein bars, Kleenex, chapstick, green tea, warm/fuzzy socks, journals/ puzzle books etc. What started as a few Care Packs quickly grew to 40-50 each time I went to chemo. T. Teal now distributes Cancer Care Packs at six metro infusion/radiation centers, and we’ve mailed over 100 Cancer Care Packs to fighters across the U.S. In addition, T. Teal gave $4,000 in gas and meal cards to patients identified as being in need in 2014, and we’ve given out over 1,000 Cancer Care Packs. I believe the most meaningful thing you can do in this life is be kind to others, and do unto others as you’d want them to do for you, if one day you found yourself in the midst of darkness. And one more thing..Fight Like a Girl!!
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

T. Teal and Beauti on The Go

I met the lovely and vivacious Brandi, Creative Director of Beauti on the Go when her team did hair and make-up for my best friend's wedding.  The June date was just a month after I'd finished twenty rounds of chemo, and although I felt so blessed to be a part of the special day, I had that "I've got Cancer" look to me, and wasn't exactly wedding ready. I was weak, frail, and without hair, eyelashes or eyebrows, which all made me nervous about standing up in front of everyone.

Sitting in Brandi's chair, she recognized my concern, and she met it with compassion and understanding. While she attended to my "Beauti" dilemma we talked about my treatment and ministry of delivering Cancer Care Packs to those I noticed who were hurting.

Brandi helped me have the courage to stand and honor my friend, and also somehow got eyelashes to stay on throughout a night of dancing, despite having any real ones to hold them up. She also believed in T. Teal when it was just in its' baby stages, and encouraged me to keep spreading kindness. Brandi did what she could to support the ministry, and promoted T. Teal at Beauti on the Go Bridal Soiree's with the help of my friends.

When I went back to San Diego in March for my bestie's baby shower she organized a photo shoot at her downtown loft for the three of us. The shoot included lots of pictures, locations, and personal styling/makeup. We had the perfect day of pampering and laughing. We were grateful for togetherness, as well as what we've been through and overcome! One of the many cancer silver linings is the appreciation you gain for those dearest to you...I know I am thankful for these girls. We have been the best of friends for over 16 years, and they spent several weeks in OKC when I was at my worst to make sure I got the best care. Thank you Brandi for allowing us this time and opportunity to capture our friendship and love for one another!