A mother diagnosed with breast cancer wrote letters about her one-year-old son and husband who they were allowed to read after her death.
Tarah Hastie, from Brisbane, told her son Chester to “give Dad a hug” on his first day of school and said she would “look next to him” when he had his first child.
The 35-year-old wrote the moving letters for her loved ones to open in crucial stages of their lives in case she wasn’t there to see them.
She also told her husband Adam to “follow his heart” when he felt lonely, frustrated or not sure how to raise their son.
But eight years after she had her breast removed, Hastie is in remission and has had another child, a daughter named Valerie.
She shared the letters she wrote with Daily Mail Australia as she ran campaigns to have other women regularly checked.
Tarah Hastie (pictured with husband Adam and children Chester and Valerie), now 35, found a lump on her chest while she lay in bed shortly after she moved to Brisbane after living abroad with her husband Adam and son Chester, who 18 months was old
Mrs. Hastie wrote letters to her son before his first day of school or when he has his own first child
In the letter that her son had to open when he had his first child, she wrote: “The joy you get when you first hold your child is indescribable. Meeting you was the best moment of my life.
“Congratulations my darling, love them well, keep them safe and enjoy every moment you have together.”
She also wrote tips for her husband when he felt insecure, such as to hug Chester every day.
“Teach Chester to follow his heart, and if you’re unsure, follow yours,” she advised.
On Chester’s first day of school, she asked him to hug his father extra tightly because she knew it would be a tough day for him.
“It might be hard for Dad today, so make sure you give him a hug,” she wrote.
Mrs. Hastie found a lump on her chest while lying in bed in Brisbane after her return from abroad in 2012.
She thought it was just a cyst and wasn’t worried because doctors had told her all her life that she had “lumpy breasts.”
Mrs. Hastie was devastated to find out that she had cancer and was in a hurry to meet a surgeon about a breast amputation, where she was told that she had aggressive cancer that fed on the estrogen on her body. Shown after an operation in 2012
But Mrs. Hastie was told that she had cancer and was in a hurry to meet a surgeon about a breast amputation, where she was told that she had aggressive cancer that fed on the estrogen on her body.
“She told me I needed a breast amputation, regardless of whether it had spread and that’s when it really touches me,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“This could claim my life, and that gave me the enormous size of what this disease was.
“I felt helpless because I didn’t feel sick and didn’t look sick – I was fit and healthy. I never smelled or drank and practiced regularly. I felt so out of control. ”
She said she immediately thought of Chester and what this would mean for him.
Mrs. Hastie was afraid she would see her son grow up, so she started writing letters for him
“The thought that I might not see him grow up was just heartbreaking. I just had that wave of emotions and the feeling of being so lost, “Mrs. Hastie said.
“In the days prior to my operation, which was only three days later, I started to write letters to my son and to make videos for him and my husband to help him navigate raising our son alone, because it was a “touch and go” situation, “she said.
She said Chester was around for many of her treatments – except chemotherapy – because they had to prepare him for the chance that he would no longer have a mother.
“We told him before the operation:” Mommy can’t pick you up, you have to climb on her lap, “because I knew I would have a collection bag,” she said.
“In case he accidentally opened my chest wall or something.”
She said the first part was difficult because he was so young.
Mrs. Hastie was worried that she would become infertile and unable to have children – but she got Valerie five years after her diagnosis
“When we got more, he seemed to think it was pretty cool because I had no hair and he could wear my wigs. I was still taking a shower with him when he was young, so he could see the scar on my chest, “she said.
“It happened very organically – he just grew up around it. We talk openly with him about mortality. ”
She said that she and her husband are trying to make him realize that it is not something to be afraid of.
The deadly gene that makes cancer more likely
Ataxia-Telangiesctasia mutated gene is a gene that can increase the risk of certain types of cancer if it manipulates the cells.
ATM is usually intended to repair damaged DNA, but when it is mutated, it can affect development.
It can increase the risk of female breast cancer by 52 percent.
Much of the illness, however, was overwhelming for Mrs. Hastie.
She remembered for a moment that she was one of the worst in the fight against the disease.
“I had really long blond hair and as a woman you have so much identity,” she said.
“I woke up one day after my second round of chemotherapy and I went to my husband in the shower and asked him to shave it off.”
She said it had already been a waste of time and had been shortened.
“As he helped me shave, he gave me affirmative words as if we were going to get through this, but his voice was shaking,” she said.
“I was turned away from him – but when I stepped out of the shower and looked into the mirror for the first time, I looked like a sick person.”
Doctors removed a 6.5 cm tumor from her right breast, breast tissue and all her lymph nodes because three were cancerous during her breast amputation five days after diagnosis.
She started chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy for two years before doctors started using the word remission.
Mrs. Hastie eventually had her left breast removed and had a reconstruction of both.
She said there was a chance that she would become infertile due to her treatment, so she removed part of her eggs before chemotherapy.
There were also concerns about pregnancy because of the increased estrogen in her body that fed the cancer.
She also wrote tips for her husband when he felt insecure, such as hugging Chester every day
“Within eight days of the transfer of our last embryo, I knew there was something else,” she said.
“I didn’t know the gender. It was very different from being pregnant with Chester. I was pretty unwell.
“It was really surreal to me, because the last time something grew in me it tried to kill me.”
She said she was nervous but tried to do her best to get through it and be healthy while she did it.
Then Valerie was born.
“To find out she was a girl the day she was born, I just thought” that’s why I have to fight, because there’s another girl in the world, “she said.
For the two years, Mrs. Hastie’s scans looked positive.
“It’s still a really scary time because the thought of” you didn’t think you were sick last time and you were, “she said
She said they never used the word cure, but it looked very positive.
During scans in 2019, her oncologist dropped the word “healed.”
“We bought a big bottle of champagne and drank that whole evening that whole time,” she laughed.
“After having had all those scans and having had a child since my diagnosis, I feel pretty clear.”
Mrs. Hastie is an advocate of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and has been since 2012
Mrs. Hastie is an advocate of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and has been since 2012.
On Thursday, the foundation announced that the goal is to have zero breast cancer deaths by 2030, which they believe is possible with a $ 100 million financing.
“When I became a member at the end of my diagnosed year, the statistics were that one in nine women would get breast cancer, and now it’s one in seven,” she said.
“For me with increased diagnoses, I don’t think it would be great if women would have a diagnosis like mine in ten years and not have to think about having contact with their children even though they are not there.”
As a mother, she said that was the worst possible thought.
‘In 2012 it was an inspiring goal and now it is possible. That’s incredible for me, “she said.
“It makes me happy to know that my children have a bright future, especially when it comes to this disease where they may be destined.”
Mrs. Hastie said she began to feel ill after her husband helped her remove her hair
Mrs. Hastie recently turned out to have the mutated gene Ataxia-Telangiesctasia, which manipulates how cells grow and divide and can affect cancer.
She said there is a 50/50 chance that this can be passed on to her children.
NBCF plans to spend funding on personalized medicines, research on why certain patients do not survive the five years, immunotherapies and predictive testing.
Professor Sarah Hosking, National Breast Cancer Foundation Australia CEO, said: “No one has to lose a loved one to this devastating disease and we are working tirelessly to change the future of Australia for the better.
“Our research investments are made with a focus on our goal of zero deaths by 2030 and are led by leading breast cancer researchers and clinicians in Australia, as well as people affected by breast cancer.”