OKLAHOMA CITY – December of 2012 brought devastating news for 29-year-old Tarah Warren.
Doctors said she had stage 4 ovarian cancer and she might not survive.
Warren’s mother, Marylynn Green, had recently fought the same battle with breast cancer.
“I had walked a difficult journey, but I did not want my child to walk that journey at all,” Green said.
Chemo treatments started to steal Warren’s hair but, instead of letting it slowly fall out, Warren threw her own head-shaving party, which she called ‘The Brave Shave.’
Warren ended up beating cancer, just like her mother.
However, even on her worst days, Warren was not focused on herself but, rather, on spreading hope to other chemo patients, by handing out goody bags with items to bring them comfort during the devastating time she knew too well.
Warren soon created a Christian-based charity called ‘Tenaciously Teal,’ as teal is the color for ovarian cancer awareness.
She rounds up thousands of volunteers to help sew or decorate gift bags, who then stuff them with the items Warren appreciated most during chemo treatment.
The care packs are then delivered to patients at 16 different cancer facilities across Oklahoma or shipped across the nation.
In the three years Tenaciously Teal has been in business, Warren and volunteers have handed out 10,000 bags.
They are filled with things like Chapstick, Gatorade, lotion, hand sanitizer, protein bars, comfy socks, journals, games and something that many see as the most valuable item – a handwritten note of encouragement.
Warren also coordinates Brave Shave parties for recipients who are ready to shave their heads and then receive a free photo shoot with professional makeup and borrowed clothes to model from Balliet’s in Oklahoma City.
“She’s just a very kind, sweet person and loves to help other people,” said Jeanne Bugg.
Bugg has known Warren since she was a little girl and nominated her for Pay it 4Ward.
“On behalf of Channel 4 and First Fidelity Bank, I want to present you with $400,” Bugg said.
“That’s awesome, thank you! That’s 40 care packs,” Warren said.
Warren’s kindness continues to touch the lives of those touched by cancer, including First Fidelity’s Lanier Lee.
“It’s easy to help other people when you’re feeling well yourself, you know, when you’re doing well, but to kind of go through what you were going through at the time and still have a heart for others at the time, I’m sorry… I just think that’s amazing, I’m sorry… I’ve had my own family go through a lot of similar issues,” Lee said tearfully.
Though cancer is a diagnosis no one wants to hear, it may have led Warren right where she’s supposed to be.
“I totally believe it’s her purpose, and she’s fulfilling it very well,” her mother said – and Warren agrees.
“A lot of times when we’re leaving the treatment center and we look back and people are eating their protein bar and they’re drinking their Gatorade and they’re looking through their word find, and sometimes we’ve passed out blankets and there’s like a sea of red and blue blankets after we leave, so I feel like that’s just a little piece of love we’ve left behind,” she said.
Warren’s organization also donates gas cards to cancer hospitals, which then give them to patients who must travel for treatment.
Warren is always seeking donated items for care packs, as well as volunteers.
If you’d like to help, you can find Tenaciously Teal on Facebook or online at www.tteal.org.
If you would like to nominate someone deserving of Pay it 4Ward, click here for more info. Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.