My name is Tara Agnew and I was 26 years old when my life turned upside down. I thought my life and my future got ripped out from under me – but I was wrong. My 4-year-old nephew and I were playing one day when he accidentally elbowed me in my left breast. It hurt, like REALLY hurt, but I thought he just “got me good” and left a nice bump. A few weeks had gone by and I noticed the bump was still there and, out of curiosity, I felt the right side. To my surprise, there was a bump there too… but I never got hit there. I talked to a few co-workers and finally decided to request an ultrasound. One mammogram turned into two, and one ultrasound turned into two with a biopsy. I knew then that my life was going to change. So many different tests, labs, doctors… it was a whirlwind, but I had my family, friends and fiancé by my side. My genetic testing came back and my surgeon called me personally, on a Saturday afternoon, and told me I had a genetic mutation in the p53 gene. Say what? I didn’t think anything of it, but I did some research and talked with my physician more and found out I had LFS.

One year, almost to the day from my diagnosis, I was supposed to be married… funny how life changes and you think your world is ending. LFS was initially a curse, but ask me that today, and I would say it came as a blessing in disguise. Five weeks before my wedding date, my fiancé left me. High and dry. No explanation. It took me a while to figure out, but I honestly believe my diagnosis came at the right time. It showed me how STRONG I am. How INDEPENDENT I am. How I KICKED CANCER’S ASS and didn’t let it define me. Of course I have long term effects from chemo, complications and an entire lifetime of tests, labs, check-ups, self-examinations… do I get aggravated with my limitations daily? With my self-image sometimes? With the fact that I have to watch EVERYTHING I put on or in my body? Absolutely. But then I think “I’m still here,” “I’m still doing the dang thing!” Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and realize what I do have that LFS didn’t take away me – my life, my family, my friends, my boyfriend who loves me with ALL of my imperfections, my career in massage therapy (that I did with chemo brain when I thought I would never be able to) … there’s SO MUCH that I have to be grateful for and my twisted sense of humor has definitely helped me cope. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely have my “self-pity” days, but I take a deep breath and just keep pushing on, because I don’t want to live a ‘what if’ life.