October 3, 2013

Ovarian Cancer Awareness: Welcome Our Guest

In Memoriam: Tara Driskell 
 September 1966 - November 2011

October may be here, but September is hardly behind us. In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (September), I wanted to re-post this touching interview with special guest, Tara D., who visited us and shared her life experiences, as well as her battle with ovarian cancer in 2011. She was an amazing person. Please send her up a smile and read on...

Hi Tara! Thanks for visiting The Balanced Writer in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Would you tell everyone a little about yourself--besides the fact that you’re a Nashville native, cartographer, a certified Pharmacy technician, and a mother of one talented, handsome son...

What is a favorite childhood memory?

My favorite childhood memory is riding down a long honeysuckle-lined road to the boat dock where we kept our boat, with the windows down, drinking in the heavy smell of honeysuckle.

What have you always been good at--talents-- that you appreciate now?

I was always a good reader as a kid, and I'm still an avid reader today.

What kind of things do you remember struggling with as you grew up? Did it make you a stronger person?

I struggled with shyness as a child, and I had to really make an effort to overcome that as I grew up. It did make me stronger, because I had to really fight the urge to try to disappear into the background and make an effort to talk to people. I felt like I was faking it. But that's what they say, "Fake it 'til you make it."

I can't ever remember or even imagine you being shy. You faked it well. Your outgoing personality, I happen to know, is one thing that draws people to you. So when were you first diagnosed with ovarian cancer?

I was diagnosed on Dec 1, 2008.

 What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed with the disease?

The funny thing is my first thought was, "I'm going to die," then I wondered how sick people were supposed to act. I just decided to be myself and just go with the flow.

How have your friends and family shown their support?

My friends and family have been very supportive. Especially my sister, Brandy. She drives me to most of my appointments and procedures, and I have several friends and family who have visited me in the hospital when I've been an in-patient.

What kind of extra help or support have you needed?

Sometimes I just need a shoulder to cry on or someone to complain to, and my special friends and my family are invaluable on those days.

I'm so glad you have people in your circle that are there for you. Have you had any empowering moments during this journey?

Maybe one long, almost three year moment: I feel powerful that I've managed to fight this disease for as long as I have and still feel okay most of the time. I also felt pretty powerful last summer when I passed a motorcycle riding course.

Okay, passing a motorcycle riding course is like the epitome of coolness. And to do this with an illness. Wow. How are you feeling these days?

I feel well most of the time. There are times when I feel pain from fluid buildup and the tumors, but I have pain medication for those times.

What are some things you enjoy doing right now?

I'm part of a scooter riding group. Not really a club but a great group of motor scooter enthusiasts. We meet a few times a month and take rides together. I try to ride when I'm feeling well. 

What's one new thing you would like to learn or try?

I'm wanting to learn how to ride a scooter with a manual transmission so I can ride the new Genuine Stella scooter. They're pretty sweet, but I can't afford one.

Hmmm. Sounds like a case for Dream Foundation! I hope you get the chance to learn and try that. Now, on a more personal note, what kind of comfort or expressions do you appreciate hearing from others? What do you not like?

I like when people express that they are thinking of me and/or praying for me. I know people want to be able to help but many can't so keeping me in their thoughts is just fine. I don't really like when people say, "I know just how you feel," because they probably really don't.

Good tips for friends and caregivers to remember. Can you share some of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Unfortunately the early symptoms of OC can be easily dismissed by many women as signs of aging, as they were by me. Lower back pain, heavy periods, bloating, heartburn. The best way to catch it early is with a blood test that is not part of a routine gynecological checkup.

That is precious information. I'd always assumed when I had my yearly checkup that was being taken care of. What else does everyone need to know to prevent and fight this disease?

Know your body. If something doesn't feel right see your doctor. Know if ovarian or any cancer runs in your family. But even with all this, it is hard to catch OC early. 

So it's something women need to stay informed and aware of -- all the time. Would you like to share something you've learned about the world or yourself through battling cancer?

I've learned that my family and self are stronger than I ever realized, and I've learned that people want to help. If you can, let them help. You are giving them a blessing, as well as them blessing you, by letting people help. That's been hard for me as I have always been very independent.

I'm not going to say "I know" here, because I don't want to get in trouble. *GRIN* Your independence is another quality that I have always admired about you. 

Okay, time for some quickie "Likes":

What's your favorite snack? Peanut butter crackers, cookies
Favorite vacation spot? Fort Morgan Beach, Ala.
Movie? The Princess Bride
Toothpaste? AIM
Dream Car: Smart Car
If you won a millions dollars you would: Buy a Smart car and a Kia Soul because they are both so cute. Buy my mom and my kid a new car.
What is your favorite thing about YOU? I'm smart, funny, and hardly shy anymore...

Thanks, Tara, for visiting with me and sharing information about OC. You're a brilliant, strong woman, and as someone who has always looked up to you, I'm honored to be able to share your story. Have a Happy Birthday this month, and best of luck and and prayers to you as you continue this fight.

~Danielle Thorne



Linda Swift said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Tara. You sound like a gutsy kind of girl that I'd like to know. Keep up the good fight. I wish you well. Linda

Miss Mae said...

Fantastic interview! Loved getting to know you, Tara, and oh, I can so relate to the shyness syndrome! Me too, me too! And how about giving an oral report in school? Honey, I'd sooner face a starving man-eating crocodile!!!!

So sorry to hear about the OC, but it certainly sounds as if you have a terrific outlook (or is that part of "faking it" too? *grin*) Shucks, we women have so much we need to watch out for regarding health, don't we?

You take care, Tara. So many people are pulling for ya! :)

Your new shy friend,
Miss Mae

jude said...

Tara and Danielle,
Thanks for sharing yourselves and this wonderful interview. News about OC needs to be shouted from the rooftops! Love that you ride a skooter. Now I'd be shy about that!

Jude Urbanski

Anne Patrick said...

Awesome scooter, Tara! Thank you for sharing with us. You do seem to have a wonderful outlook and I think it's great that you're bringing more awareness about OC. Hope you get that Smart Car. You'd look super in it!

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Tara,
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I loved reading about your scooter and your relationship with your friends and family. Blessings to you!

StephB said...

Dani & Tara, a fantastic interview and very inspiring. Tara, it's very inspirational to hear your story. Thank you so much for sharing.