Pink Ribbons

I have a friend.

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!!
And then you see a group of women in bright pink swim caps standing together on a boat ramp, the early morning sun glinting on the water, feet submerged, pulses racing, arms swinging, anxious to begin the race.  The importance of the event and the cause becomes clear again.  Some of these women, like Taryn, are years away from hearing the news, some have just learned, and others are at the end of rounds of treatment.  But all of them are standing there, getting ready to swim, then bike, then run...for a reason.

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.




  1. You can't top made me cry.
    Love that girl! Taryn has always been an inspiration to me even before she had cancer. She always was the motivator under any circumstances. And I love how she tells it like it is as well. No sugar coating it! And Olympic Distance???..she is crazy but i love it! Go T-dog!

  2. Incredible! Taryn you are amazing, your story and who you are is an inspiration to everyone around you. Melissa thank you for sharing, this is exactly what I need to hear today to put life in perspective!! After reading this, and after I get a tissue and wipe my eyes dry, I am going to get my lazy butt out and run. Because I can!

  3. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    Please let your friend know that it is women like her that are an inspiration to the rest of us. How important to remember there are some things we do just "because we can."

  4. Taryn is AMAZING!!!!!! Hope her testimony gives hope to many more woman who go through what she's gone through. God bless her!


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