Tarah is a mother, wife, daughter and business professional, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in October 2016 at the age of 32. She lives in Little Elm, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, with her husband, Sam, and two young children, Hannah and Braxton.
One day while Tarah was nursing her then eight-month-old son, she felt a lump in her left breast. She went to see her doctor when the lump did not disappear, and a biopsy revealed that she had breast cancer. A subsequent scan showed that the cancer had metastasized to her bones. It is very uncommon for someone to be first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This is referred to as ‘de novo’ metastatic breast cancer, meaning the breast cancer is metastatic at initial diagnosis, and occurs in approximately six percent of new breast cancer cases in the U.S.1,2
Many of Tarah’s family members, including her father, have been diagnosed and sadly passed away from cancer. After Tarah was diagnosed with MBC at a young age, her doctors recommended that she receive genetic testing to determine if her breast cancer was caused by a genetic mutation, and she tested positive for the BRCA2 and CHEK2 mutations. After receiving her genetic test result, Tarah learned that understanding her hereditary status can help inform treatment decisions. It can also help her children one day take proactive steps to managing their potential risk for being diagnosed with cancer.
Although raising two young children while living with MBC has its challenges, Tarah does what she can to keep their lives as normal as possible. Setting personal goals, like taking her daughter to her first day of kindergarten, keeps Tarah motivated and her outlook positive.
Tarah believes it’s important to share her story to help others affected by MBC know they’re not alone and that there is a community of people who are incredibly supportive and want to help.
1Lu J, Steeg PS, Price JE, et al. Breast cancer metastasis: challenges and opportunities. Cancer Res. 2009;69:4951-4953.
2Barbie T, Golshan M. De novo stage 4 metastatic breast cancer: a surgical disease?. Ann Surg Oncol. 2018;25:3109–3111. doi:10.1245/s10434-018-6664-6.
Video: Tarah Harvey
Tarah and her mom, husband and best friend describe how they felt after she was diagnosed with MBC. For Tarah, the best thing for her and her family is to continue moving forward and enjoying the days they’re able to spend together.
When you’re living with metastatic breast cancer, performing daily tasks that were once routine can become challenging. Bath time is no exception, but with some extra bubbles and splashes, Hannah and Braxton make it fun for mom.
At the end of a long day, Tarah and Hannah spend some quality time reading together. Life can be a whirlwind, but it’s important to slow down and appreciate the little things.
Tarah, along with her mother and two children, live close to the beach and find any excuse to go there as often as possible for some rest, relaxation and fun.
Making it to see Hannah’s first day of Kindergarten was everything to Tarah, and was a huge goal she set for herself after she was diagnosed two years earlier.
No matter what day of the week it is, Tarah and her husband, Sam, love entertaining their family at their home.
Genetic Counselor Video
Because of Tarah’s family history and her diagnosis with MBC at such a young age, her doctors recommended that she receive genetic testing to determine if she had a genetic mutation. After receiving her genetic test results, Tarah met with a genetic counselor to review them. With specialized training in medical genetics and counseling, genetic counselors play a unique and critical role. This includes helping to determine which genetic test is right for a particular patient, interpreting genetic test results and supporting patients in navigating the implications of that information.
Hannah and Braxton catch a ride from Mom around the neighborhood. School is about to start, so Tarah cherishes every minute with her kindergartener and preschooler.
Nothing puts Tarah in a better mood than being surrounded by her friends and family during a night of good food and lots of laughs.
The decision to work while in treatment is different for everyone. Tarah has been with her company for over 10 years and has their full support.