By: Hyacinth Rucker, Regional Communications Manager for American Red Cross – Indiana Region
Tara Brower is in a fight for her life. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) on December 1, 2020. She credits blood donations from selfless strangers for her ability to keep fighting.
Tara is a wife and mother to four wonderful boys.
“I had a very active life prior to my diagnosis,” said Tara. “I faithfully ran two miles a day and worked as a financial advisor at Edward Jones.”
She noticed shortness of breath, accelerated heartbeat and unexplained bruising in the weeks leading up to her diagnosis. Her husband encouraged her to go to the doctor to get checked out.
She went to her appointment and had her blood drawn. Later that evening, her nurse practitioner called her with devastating news about her white blood cells.
“She basically broke the news to me that I had some form of cancer, but she didn’t know what kind,” said Tara.
Later that evening, she went to the emergency room, and the doctor agreed with the nurse that Tara had some form of cancer and admitted her to the hospital. She received blood platelets that same day.
From the moment she was diagnosed, she requested family and friends to pray for her. Tara learned the power of prayer four years ago when her father was on a hunting trip in South Dakota and contracted a Strep A bacteria through a tiny prick on his finger, which then entered his bloodstream. He developed toxic shock syndrome, which shuts down organs one by one. Tara flew out to South Dakota to say goodbye.
“I vividly remember being on my hands and knees in a bathroom in the hospital praying to God,” said Tara. “That experience really solidified the power of prayer in my life. Prayer really works along with community support.”
Today, Tara’s father is doing well and out hikes her on hiking excursions.
Fast forward four years later, Tara started making specific prayers related to her diagnosis and saw God answering her prayers in unbelievable time.
While in the hospital shortly after her diagnosis her doctor told her that MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas is the best hospital to treat AML. After researching and trying to find connections to get admitted into MD Anderson, she was striking out at every turn. She prayed to get into that hospital but would be at peace if she could not get in. She did a Google search and found an urgent care number for MD Anderson and called it.
“It just so happened that the head of all physician assistants and nurse practitioners at MD Anderson answered the phone,” said Tara.
After a brief conversation, the doctor asked her to read off her numbers. The doctor told her, “I don’t care how you get here, but you need to get here as quick as you can.”
Shortly after speaking to the doctor at MD Anderson, she knew her neighbor had a connection to a plane. After a brief call, he asked her to be at the airport in 45 minutes.
Tara said she had so much peace on that flight. She found out later that her church had set up a prayer vigil at the same time at her home.
When she arrived at the hospital and went into the ER by herself. She later found out the doctor on call that night is the only doctor on staff that treats leukemia and stem cell patients. She is being treated for her leukemia and will soon need a stem cell transplant.
Tara has been sharing her testimony on her Facebook page. She says, “When you are seeing God move in powerful ways you have to share.”
When people ask Tara how they can help her, she encourages them to give blood.
She has helped organize two blood drives in Daviess County on her Facebook page, which has led to a total of 165+ units of blood being collected.
Tara just finished her second round of chemo treatment as an outpatient. She has received 46 units of blood and platelet transfusions since her diagnosis just this past December.
Today, Tara is feeling strong. While she does not run two miles a day right now, she does walk two miles a day. She still does squats and she’s thankful she has not lost a lot of weight or experienced nausea.
What’s next for Tara? She has one more chemo treatment and will begin a stem cell transplant. She recently received the great news that a stranger is a perfect match.
Tara says this experience has caused her to look at the legacy she wants to leave behind. She wants her kids to see the best part of this experience in her, God’s power.
“If God was faithful then, he will be faithful now.”
She is also helping to push two upcoming blood drives in her honor. One will be held on April 14 by the Daviess County 4-H association, an organization she volunteers her time and serves as a board member. Her boys are also 4-H members. On May 13, another blood drive will be held at Griffith Elementary in Washington where her cousin is a teacher. Her boys also attend school in the Washington school district.