Even though I was always coming in to get treated for cancer, I never felt like I had a fatal disease… they made me feel good.
Tara Finley, a 31-year-old woman from Battle Creek, has a family history of breast cancer. However, being so young, she didn’t think that it was something she needed to worry about for at least another decade. What she didn’t know was that she carried the BRCA 1 gene, meaning that her chances of getting breast cancer were much higher than average.
One night in December Tara noticed that she was having some pain in her chest. Not thinking much of it, she thought maybe she pulled a muscle while working out. As the pain persisted, she performed a self-breast exam and noticed a lump. After discussing it with her husband, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor to have a mammogram. When the results came back unclear and suspicious, her doctor performed a biopsy on the lump. On January 3, 2017, the doctor confirmed that Tara had breast cancer.
“Living on the east coast at the time, I knew immediately that I wanted to go back to Michigan so I could be closer to my family. I was also familiar with the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center because my good friend Julie works there. I knew instantly that I didn’t want to have my treatment anywhere else,” Tara shared. On January 14, Tara packed her bags and left for Michigan. That’s when she met her doctor, Nidhi Mishra, MD, of Bronson Oncology and Hematology Specialists. “Dr. Mishra is very patient-oriented; she was always focused on me and my needs. At one point she told me that we would grow old together, and that gave me hope.”
Another benefit that drew Tara to Bronson was the DigniCap, a scalp cooling system that can be used during chemotherapy treatment to help reduce or prevent hair loss. “Being a woman and a hairstylist, one of my biggest fears was losing my hair. It was difficult enough to lose my eyebrows and eyelashes so I wanted to do whatever I could to prevent losing all of my hair,” Tara said.
Every time Tara went in for treatment she was committed to using the DigniCap, and she highly recommends it to everyone who has access to one. “I was very surprised that a smaller city like Battle Creek would have a DigniCap,” Tara said. “In 2016 I saw something on Facebook about the DigniCap and I thought about how beneficial that would be for someone going through chemo. Little did I know I would need it a year later! I’m grateful to Bronson for having something like that available. I feel beautiful today because of it.”
Having breast cancer at a young age taught Tara a lot of things, the most important of them being to seize the day and her time with her children and husband. She is now a strong advocate for educating the younger generation that cancer doesn’t discriminate. “You don’t have to be 70 or 80 years old to get cancer,” she said. “It can happen to anyone. Go get checked. Do your self-exams and due-diligence.”
All of the staff members at the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center had an impact on Tara’s treatment. “Even though I was always coming in to get treated for cancer, I never felt like I had a fatal disease while I was there. Everyone was so cheerful, supportive and uplifting. They made me feel good,” Tara said. She feels blessed to have started 2018 cancer free, and thanks the entire team at Bronson for providing her with outstanding care.