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MAKING A MARK: Young breast cancer survivor supports newly diagnosed women

Tara Council is a young mom, military wife and survivor of invasive ductal carcinoma. She's helping newly diagnosed women navigate their breast cancer journeys.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Tara Council's breast cancer diagnosis came at a very busy time in her life.

"We had just moved here cross country from California," Council said. "I had a one-year-old... and my husband was deployed."

"It was quite a challenge," she continued. 

Tara was diagnosed at the age of 33 with invasive ductal carcinoma. 

"It happened very quickly... My nurse practitioner found my lump during a routine exam," she explained. 

While the diagnosis came as a shock, Council said it wasn't a total surprise. 

"I knew. Like, I just knew," Council said.

 "And when the doctor said, 'you have breast cancer', we just took a deep breath and said, 'OK, what do we do now?'"

She said the worst part of having breast cancer was the unknown. 

"That month between surgery when I had scans, and I was alone, and I had my daughter with me... I had my double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in May of 2018," Council said.

 "A month later, I started chemo because we did find out it spread to my lymph nodes."  

Seven months after reconstructive surgery, Council was declared cancer free. But she said her journey as a survivor was just beginning.

"My daughter, she is five. We were out somewhere, and she pointed to a woman who had some sort of breast cancer swag," Council said.

 "She said, "Mommy, she has your mark'... At that moment, when I heard her call it my mark, she understood that part of breast cancer, that part of finding a group and how important it is."  

The group Council found after being declared cancer free was 'Here for the Girls', a non-profit improving the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer under age 51. 

"I found women who truly understood," she said. 

 "I can just look at them and tell them my deepest fears, my worries, and they just look back and they say, 'Yeah, I get it.'"  

Council now helps newly diagnosed young women navigate their breast cancer journeys through her volunteer work with 'Here for the Girls.'

"I became a facilitator for our newly diagnosed group," she said.

 "We have built this community for women that allow them to ask these questions and share these fears."  

Council said she wouldn't trade the person she is today for who she was prior to her breast cancer diagnosis. 

"I am lucky for what I went through and how I came out on the other side," she said.

'Here for the Girls' is hosting a Facebook Live panel discussion with its health partners called "In the Know," and it focuses on young women and breast cancer. Then event will be held October 20th at 6:30 p.m. Click here to learn more or register.

The Here for the Girls 2023 A Calendar to Live By is available for purchase.

 It shares the stories of survivors, provides breast health guidance and offers advice for other young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Proceeds support the group. Click here for more information, or email info@hereforthegirls.org to purchase a copy.


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