Tara Rice Simkins, J.D., Press On Fund co-founder | teacher | writer

“In the midst of fear, fall deeper into love.” TRS January 27, 2009.

www.pressonfund.org | www.tarasimkins.com

Tara left a successful twenty-year legal career to pursue a new calling ~ that of teacher, writer and co-founder of the Press On Fund.  Inspired by her family’s journey inside the world of pediatric cancer, Tara shares a unique understanding of what it means to potentially lose something very meaningful in your life, and in the face of such loss, to commit to living an extraordinary life. Her family’s journey brought Tara to her knees.  Literally.  Tara’s message is simple: “Deciding to fall deeper into Love (see below), to transform our difficulties and to summon the courage to press on is the privilege and practice of our lives.” Her signature line, “XOXO + Press on,” sums up this life philosophy.

Tara lives in North Augusta, South Carolina with her husband, Turner, her three sons, Nat, Brennan and Christopher, and their dog, Lucky.

photos courtesy of RWI Photography/Capsule Augusta

the rest of the story:

There was this voice.  This voice in my head.  This voice in my heart.  Quietly leading me, and this is what it whispered while all of the thoughts spun around and around and around,

In the midst of fear, fall deeper into love.

It was 2 a.m.  January 27, 2009.  I was lying in a hospital bed holding my 7 year old, Brennan, our sparkly-eyed, middle son. My husband, Turner, was lying on the neighboring couch, flipping through the Children’s Oncology Group’s newest protocol for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (“AML”).  The chemotherapy.  The antibodies.  The best that the pediatric cancer world had to offer our son was somewhere in that protocol lost amidst all of the side effects:  infertility, skin cancer, kidney disease, vascular disorders, and oh yeah, AML, the exact cancer that it was designed to cure.

The road map of the next 6-8 months of our lives was outlined in the flow chart.  Thirty days in the hospital for the first round of chemotherapy.  Five days out.  A second thirty days in the hospital.  Another five days out.  A third round of thirty days in the hospital followed by ten days out of the hospital.  The arrows in the flow chart zigged and zagged to a second phase:  allogenic bone marrow transplant. Thirty to sixty days in a new hospital.  In another city.  One hundred days out.  And then, only then, did the arrows in the flow chart point to our final destination:  HOME.

Turner was beyond disturbed and on the verge of hopelessness.  A father desperate to make the best decision for his son.  I was determined my child would not be a victim of cancer.  How could we be expected to make an educated decision on behalf of a little boy who just turned seven only when we did not understand any of the information provided?

What we didn’t know at the time was that our arrival HOME would be short lived.  We would enjoy all of the comforts of home  for two weeks and then we would find ourselves facing an extremely early relapse.

What we didn’t know at the time was that we would have to map our own way.  We would have to find new guideposts and travel across the southeast from the Savannah River to the Mississippi River in search of a CURE.

What we didn’t know at the time was that Brennan’s 7th birthday would be the first of three birthdays and every holiday in between, with the exception of the 4th of July, celebrated within the confines of a hospital room.

What we didn’t know at the time was the amazing journey that lay ahead.  A journey of hopelessness and hope, of desperation and joy, of despair and unending gratitude.

This blog and my work coaching other families, caretakers and people who want to love their life in the midst of whatever circumstance they find themselves is one of the many blessings sprouting from this experience.

I hope you visit often and that you find comfort here.  If this work strikes a particular chord with you, please email me (tara.simkins@gmail.com).  I would love to hear from you and work with you.  Together, no matter what our circumstances, we will continue to fall deeper into love.  After all, it is the only choice we have.  To follow that voice within ourselves and choose to love our lives in this moment.

XOXO + Press on,