A Glengormley woman battling cervical cancer is blogging, fundraising and donating her hair to support fellow suffers and advance treatment.
Tara Millar, 31, was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer on April 1 this year, and since her diagnosis has fought with all her might to overcome the illness and fundraise to cure the disease.
Knowing that her hair would fall out due to the treatment, photographer Tara decided to take the initiative by donating her long, curly hair to The Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children with cancer, documenting the process in a photo shoot.
She told The Times: “I flew over to Leeds for a photo shoot with photographer Steve Robertson, who does a lot of hair shots for models. We took photos of my hair being cut and styled at various stages by a girl who works for GHD.
“First there was a picture of it long and curly, then it was divided into sections and plaited to be cut for the Little Princess Trust. After that it was cut into a pixie style, then a Mohawk and finally I shaved the last big off myself.
“I wanted to donate it to The Little Princess Trust as they make real hair wigs for boys and girls with cancer. The wigs would be expensive to buy and the charity relies on donated hair.
“It is hard for anyone to lose their hair but for little children who have to go to school it is even harder. I felt it was good to give it to benefit little kids.”
Tara’s hair donation also raised over £1,000 Cancer Research UK, after her friend Claire Bull created a Justgiving account to publicise her efforts.
“Cancer Research UK are all about finding a cure, so I thought it was one of the most useful charities to donate to,” said Tara.
“They are not funded but there are so many doctors and scientists working to find a cure and the only thing holding them back is money.
“So far we have raised £1,152 which is brilliant.”
In addition to her charity efforts, Tara is the only person in Northern Ireland who is currently taking part in a clinical trial at Belfast City Hospital to examine a new treatment’s effectiveness against the disease.
She revealed: “I have locally advanced cervical cancer and I have a 75 per cent chance of survival. The clinical trial involves combining three treatments together, which makes them more effective at combatting the disease. One of the drugs attacks the cells while they are dividing which stops it being able to reproduce, another while they are resting.”
After struggling to find blogs which she felt she could relate to while coping with her illness, Tara launched her own blog, entitled “The uninvited guest cc” in order to share here experience with fellow suffers.
She explained: “Shortly after I was diagnosed I was reading blogs which were quite airy fairy and I didn’t learn very much from them.
“They didn’t use my lingo and I didn’t learn much from them.
“According to the NHS, cervical cancer is the most common cancer for woman under 35.
“I wanted to write about what having cancer meant to me in my words and with my humour.”
Before her diagnosis, Tara had travelled around the world while working on cruise ships.
The local woman says it is important for all women to be aware of the risks of cervical cancer and to go for regular smear tests.
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t go for a smear test,” she commented.
“Cancer is worse if you think what you have to go through when you are receiving treatment for it.
“I’d rather deal with that 15 minutes of discomfort than allow a disease to plant itself in my body and grow.”
Despite her achievements, Tara, who has an American fiancé, says she doesn’t see herself as an inspiration to fellow cancer sufferers.
“I am just doing what the doctors tell me to do.
“I don’t feel like an inspiration when you think about all the soldiers who really sound that battle cry for real.
“I am following doctors orders, attending appointments.
“I couldn’t be more prouder of the NHS, especially in the light of the health service overhaul that America is currently going through.
“And I am rooting for the scientists in the Royal College of London who are putting on the Interlace clinical trial.”
To donate to Tara’s fundraising efforts, visit https://www.justgiving.com/taramillar2015/.
To read her blog, visit: theuninvitedguestcc.wordpress.com/about/.