Tara Gibson’s story of her cancer fight
When you’re young and in the pink of health, breast cancer is certainly the farthest thing from your mind. It certainly was for Tara Gibson. Two years ago, the then 28-year-old single mother was working and trying hard to care for her seven-year-old son. She was generally accomplishing everything she set out to do. That was until she found a fairly big lump in her breast.
“It had been there for a while,” Tara admitted. “Then one day I was working and got a pain in my armpit. I made an appointment with my doctor, who recommended I see a breast specialist, who did a biopsy.”
After the biopsy, Tara went back to work, awaiting the results but not giving them too much thought.
“I was so shocked when I found out it was cancer, I cried,” Tara recalled. “I had no family history of this, so I never even thought it was possible.”
Being newly diagnosed not only with breast cancer but with triple negative breast cancer left Tara so traumatized that it took her a few days before she was able to break the news to her mother and family.
Triple negative breast cancer typically occurs in women before the age of 40 and most commonly affects black women, followed by Hispanic women. Like other forms of breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Studies have shown that triple negative breast cancer is more aggressive than other types of breast cancer and is more likely to spread beyond the breast and to recur.
Tara, who had gorged herself on the Internet researching her type of cancer, at times found the news too overwhelming to cope with.
“When I told my mother, she was really strong, and that helped me,” Tara said. “She told me not to worry about it, that we will get through it.”
Because of the size of Tara’s lump, doctors recommended chemotherapy to shrink it before they performed surgery to remove it.
“I did four sessions of chemo every two weeks, which did help to shrink the lump, then had the surgery, more chemo and 15 treatments of radiation therapy,” Tara recalled. “It didn’t take long for my hair to come out. At first it was just strands, but then you would just run your hands through it and it would come out in clumps.”
Though she had the support of her family, and the spiritual backing of her church, Tara revealed that she struggled seriously with bouts of depression.
“At times I found it really hard to be positive and upbeat, especially since I got so sick from the chemotherapy that I had to be hospitalized ,” she said. “What made it worse was my son would ask, ‘Are you coming back home?’”
It was during those moments that she tapped into God to help see her through those periofs when her own strength wasn’t enough to sustain her.
Eventually Tara was able to summon enough faith because the treatment worked, and two years later she is cancer-free.
“Every three to four months I get my blood checked, and I experienced my first mammogram at 30,” she said. “I can say though that I’ve grown a lot since then and I don’t take anything, especially life, for granted,” she said. “I have so much to thank God for.”