Tara Norman and her husband, Matt, were looking forward to celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary when a routine mammogram changed everything.
“I was diagnosed in Aug. 1 2019 with stage 2 HER+ breast cancer,” said Norman who recently turned 45. “I didn’t feel a lump, nor did I show any signs of being sick.”
No one in her family had a history of breast cancer either. The mother of two young boys, Sam and Jeff, underwent six chemotherapy treatments and 12 months of hormone therapy at Good Samaritan Hospital under the care of oncologist Dr. Cassandra Lacher, surgeon Dr. Lindsey Fleshman and Dr. Brian Gebhardt.
Norman said she fortunate she was able to receive excellent care at treatment locally so she didn’t have to travel for hours or be separated from her husband and boys.
“My oncologist, Dr. Lacher is a wonderful Christian woman who encouraged me. My surgeon, Dr. Fleshman prayed with me before surgery. Dr. Gebhardt explained everything about radiation, so I would not have questions,” said Norman, adding the radiation technicians allowed her to play Christian music during radiation treatments to keep her calm.”
Following my chemotherapy, she underwent a lumpectomy procedure and then followed that with 20 radiation treatments over the course of a month.
Even living more than 14 hours away from their family, Norman didn’t battle alone.
“At the time of my diagnosis, Sam was 7 and Jeff was 3. Our church, First Church of God in Vincennes, and work family at Vincennes University helped us out by providing meals, gift cards for meals, providing rides to treatments, sitting at me with treatments when Matt was teaching, taking care of our boys when I had chemo treatments and providing visible support and encouragement on days I was at work,” said Norman, whose students and coworkers often wore pink in support of their friend. “They helped us maintain as much normalcy as possible for our boys when we couldn’t do it because I was ill and Matt was taking care of me.”
Eventually, Tara and Matt called their parents to come help.
“They gladly came and stayed with us for many treatments as it was easier to have our parents in our home to take care of the day-to-day needs of our boys when I had treatments.”
When COVID-19 became a factor, Norman was still taking hormone infusions and radiation.
“Because my family and I had to be in quarantine for my safety, we were able to reconnect as a family as I started to bounce back,” said Norman. “Fighting cancer had left some scars but with the help of our support system and faith in God, we are a changed but stronger family.”