Harden Recounts Breast Cancer Journey
Tracy Harden of Pontotoc with her husband, Taurse, and three sons.
PONTOTOC, Mississippi—Tracy Harden of Pontotoc was only 36 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in June 2017.
Because both her mother and grandmother were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 50s, Harden faithfully performs breast self-exams. “I felt a knot tucked away underneath my arm,” she says. “When I felt it, I knew it wasn’t supposed to be there.”
After a mammogram and breast biopsy, the Cancer Care team at North Mississippi Medical Center developed a treatment plan that included one year of chemotherapy and 32 radiation treatments. Danny Sanders, M.D., with the NMMC Breast and General Surgery Clinic, performed a lumpectomy in 2018.
With three young boys at home, Harden often felt exhausted and guilty, yet inspired to press on. “We were scheduled for a court hearing to finalize adoption of our foster son,” she says. “That day I was at my sickest and weakest, but I said, ‘if I have to crawl to that courthouse, we’re going.’ We did it and it has been a blessing ever since.”
Some days, Harden simply had to tell her boys ‘no,’ which was extremely difficult. “One of them would want me to come to school and I would have to say, ‘I can’t today but your Dad can,’ because I just didn’t have the strength,” she says. “I have always been there for everybody else. There were times when I had to be selfish for me because I knew that was the only way I was going to live and beat cancer.”
When she and her husband, Taurse, recount her cancer journey, they realize it was part of their boys’ journey as well. “My sons’ prayers were sweet, and some were funny,” she says. “One of them prayed, ‘Lord, if my Mama goes bald, please help me remember what she looked like before cancer.’”
Harden completed her treatment in 2019 and surprisingly has no regrets. “God has a purpose for everything. He connected me with all the right doctors and others, and all of them were who I needed at that time,” she says. “I thank God for cancer. It was a time that I got to know Him more personally, and it taught me to trust Him more deeply.”
For more information about breast cancer surgery options at NMMC, visit www.nmhs.net/breast-general-surgery.