At least 21,434 of you have already seen this picture, but not that many of you have seen that behind this sign is an extraordinary woman with inspiring strength.
On March 19, the night the Thunder took on the Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Tarah Warren was trying to do just what the Thunder team always does – take things one day at a time.
That night, she could have been worrying about the round of chemotherapy she was going to start the next day. But instead, Tarah made a sign to let everyone at the arena know she was focused on getting the most of that moment.
When I spoke with Tarah two days after the game, she was at that moment getting her second infusion of chemo in that cycle.
She noted how amazing, and unexpected, that night at the game had been.
“I wanted to do that sign because I was going out in public without my hair,” she said. She hadn’t been out in public a lot with her head completely bald, and the sign was “my way of telling the crowd what was going on.”
What’s going on with Tarah is that she has Stage 4 ovarian cancer, and she’s now in the middle of her fourth round of chemo to fight back against that disease.
The fight hasn’t been easy, but Tarah says she’s fighting like a girl – which, from talking to her, appears to mean she’s giving it her all and still finding ways to bring joy to others in the process.
When talking about facing down cancer, Tarah said, “It’ s a struggle, it’s darkness, it’s a trial – but I’m trying to look for the light through the darkness.” Part of that search involves helping others find some light to focus on; for example, Tarah has taken it upon herself to put together goodie baskets and hand them out to other chemo patients.
Tarah, getting her chemo on the day we spoke, poses with the “goodie baskets” she prepared to hand out that day to others receiving treatment.
“I see a lot of people who aren’t as blessed (as I am), and I’m trying to help them,” she said, whether through the baskets, her blog or her everyday interactions.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Tarah is a social worker. She’s in her last semester of grad school at OU, and when she graduates this spring, she is going to walk at the commencement ceremony.
Even with her strength and determination coming across so clearly, Tarah is in the fight of her life, and getting support and love from those around her is key for her being able to push forward.
The night she attended the Thunder game, Tarah was with several people who give her that needed support every day, including her husband, sister, brother-in-law and a close friend who went to high school with her in San Diego.
With her sign, she thought there was “a possibility of getting on the big screen,” but she “never imagined” her photo would be featured on several Thunder social media accounts, including Instagram.
That photo and the subsequent outpouring of support she received from her fellow Thunder fans have been a blessing to Tarah. “It was the boost I needed just to keep (going) through it,” she said.
The 21,000+ likes and hundreds of positive comments are what Tarah took with her as she started more chemo, going back in the ring to fight her cancer. Like a girl.
- Karina Henderson