A friend who is a daughter.
A friend who is a wife.
A friend who is a mom.
A friend who is a breast cancer survivor.
A friend who is a triathlete.
She is all these things and so much more. But she is not defined by breast cancer. She defines surviving breast cancer.
Ten years ago, when she was beginning her career, her marriage, at just 26 years old, Taryn felt a lump. It's probably nothing, she was told. You're too young.
I think everyone in her life remembers the day we got the news that it was cancer. But Taryn is strong. She is brave. And she faces most things in her life head on with realism, humor, and lots and lots of honesty.
One day I called her after a round of chemotherapy. "How are you feeling?" I asked delicately.
And in her most Taryn-like response she tells me, "I feel like I just got eaten by a bear and then shit off a cliff."
That is just one of the things I love about Taryn. You ask for the truth, you get the truth.
But she got through chemo and radiation and began the process of moving away from cancer and on with her life. And one of the challenges she decided to face was completing her first triathlon.
Why? Many of us wondered.
Because I can, was her response.
And she did. Every summer, Taryn has completed a triathlon, sometimes two in one summer. She has participated during pregnancies, while nursing and even when she had three little ones demanding her attention.
And still some ask, Why?
Because I can, she says.
|At Tri for the Cure in 2010.|
These days, breast cancer is not a taboo subject. We talk about it. We encourage each other to check ourselves. We support the cause by walking, running, swimming, biking, giving. We are affected by it personally through a friend or loved one or ourselves. But sometimes a cause can become so well-known that its significance becomes lost.
|This summer we get to write 10 years, baby!!|
Because they can.
This past Sunday, Taryn celebrated her 36th birthday. And on July 12, just two weeks after her birthday, and 10 years after beating and surviving breast cancer, Taryn will participate in her first ever Olympic distance triathlon.
Taryn will laugh at me for saying this and think I'm ridiculous, but I think she's one of the bravest people I know. Why? Because she lives her life. She isn't afraid to try something that probably scares the shit out of her. Because, as she has said, how often do you get to do something for the first time?
I'm blessed to have you in my life, Taryn. You make me laugh. You make me try harder. You make me lighten up when I get too serious. And you remind me that the race is not about the finish line. It's about getting to the finish line. And all the experiences, challenges and fun we have along the way.