I admit, I am partial. Not only do I know the woman in these photos, Tara, I also know Staci, the woman who took these photos.
I've known Staci since I was 11 (so, a long long time). I met Tara when we both worked as Registered Nurses at our local hospice. And by the grace of the universe, or God depending on what you believe, these two women — two women I love — were brought together through me, and this was the result.
After Tara's mother died as a result of ovarian cancer in August 2014 (and her uncle a year earlier from pancreatic cancer), Tara decided to be tested for the BRCA gene. BRCA gene mutation carriers have a 45-65% risk of developing cancer before age 70. Tara didn't like those odds.
When I spoke to Tara earlier this week to ask if she'd allow me to share her story and photos, she told me she had a strong suspicion that she would be BRCA positive.
Her intuition proved correct, and she was found to have the BRCA1 gene. (You may remember that Angelina Jolie has the same gene, and publicly discussed her decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy.)
Tara elected to undergo both a full hysterectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes) and double mastectomy. When I asked Tara to tell me about this decision, this is what she shared:
"I got the [test] in early April with the results on my way back from a metric century bike ride in the mountains. I can't say I was shocked, hello intuition, thanks for slapping me in the face. Scott was with me and I just said, "well, I am a mutant." We had been trying to get pregnant since 2012 and had three miscarriages in the first year and then nothing. I knew right then we were done trying and that I would have a hysterectomy asap."
The week before Tara had her double mastectomy we had a party. "Farewell to the tatas."
I made these cupcakes:
And a couple of weeks before that, Staci met with Tara at her home to take these incredible photos. I can't think of a more beautiful way to celebrate your breasts before saying goodbye.
Tara is recovering from her mastectomy now. Sending you so much love, Tara.