Thursday, October 15, 2015

We're taking charge: Tareena Penrod

Earning a degree was one of Tareena Penrod’s longtime goals. Last year, she began making that dream come true when she enrolled at Ozarks Technical Community College, intent on getting a degree in Health Information Technology. “I’ve wanted to go to college all my life,” says Tareena with a smile. “And now, I’m able to go.”

The first semester was understandably busy for the 49-year-old mother of two. But even though things were hectic – and it would’ve been easy to skip or at... least postpone her annual mammogram – she didn’t give into temptation. “It was too important,” says Tareena, thinking back to last October.

That mammogram was a blessing in disguise: When she went in for her mammogram, Tareena caught her ductal carcinoma before it progressed any further. But even with an early diagnosis, finding out something like that is a shock. “Your whole world just gets flipped upside down,” Tareena notes. After discussing her results with her doctor, she opted for a double mastectomy. “I made the decision right there,” she says.

It was the right one for Tareena. “All my tests are coming back fine,” she says, now just shy of the one-year mark of her diagnosis. Although some things about life are similar to a year ago, other things have changed. “You just want to be more vigilant about your health,” she says. “I don’t want to take one more day for granted.”

And while she’s been a proponent of mammograms for years, her personal experience with breast cancer has given her an even stronger voice. Today, here’s what she’s saying: “Do it. Now. Today. Like, you should’ve already made your appointment.”

It really is that important. “You don’t know if it’s you,” says Tareena. “You don’t know if you’re the one.”

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