22 with terminal cancer: Canadian gymnast grapples with a life-changing diagnosis | Before & After

22 with terminal cancer: Canadian gymnast grapples with a life-changing diagnosis | Before & After


I’m twenty-two. I was an elite athlete. And then I have this
cancer diagnosis, which is so confusing
with how I was living my life. ♪♪♪ My name is Tamara O’Brien. I was a former Canadian National
Team gymnast. TAMARA:My mom put me in
gymnastics when I was two.
♪♪♪ And then I made my first
Canadian National Team when I was eleven. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:From there I just kept
making teams,
and kept continuing on
with the sport.
♪♪♪ TAMARA:The World Games
are kind of our Olympics.
I had this weird feeling of,
like, my life is going to go on tomorrow regardless
of the results, so I might as well go out there
and have a really fun time. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:You stand there,
wait for your name to be called,
and the light turns green. ANNOUNCER:Tamara O’Brien.♪♪♪ TAMARA:That whole competition,
it was pure bliss.
I was nervous, but each pass
came together.
♪♪♪ TAMARA:We’re sitting on
the kiss and cry booth,
and the score pops up,
and my face is just like, oh! And it was the highest score
I’ve ever scored. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:In that moment,
I knew that I’d won a medal.
It was so cool, and you know,
my coach and I just shared
this really special moment.♪♪♪ But I was really determined to
go to the World Championships that November. I wanted to improve my results.
I wanted to win. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:While I was competing,
I had a mole on the left side
of my neck, and the mole
wasn’t necessarily
worrisome, quote, unquote. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:So when I came home,
and I’m sitting on the couch,
and I notice a lump
under my chin,
every question was going through
my head,
like how long has it been there?
Has it grown at all?
Have I always had this?
There were so many questions.
♪♪♪ TAMARA:I called the doctor,made an appointment,
went in to see her, and she said we should do
further testing on this. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:I got the call from my
dermatology office
that I needed to come in. I walked into the office,
and my dermatologist just looks at me, and just says, “Is that
your partner out there?” And I just knew as soon
as he said that that it was probably
going to be bad. And he just said, “They found
melanoma in your lymph nodes.” ♪♪♪ TAMARA:My main thought
was like, “Am I going to be able
to go to World’s in three
weeks?”
♪♪♪ TAMARA:The game plan was
they were going to remove
the lymph nodes from
the left side of my neck. And I met with the surgeon,
and she goes, “Great news! We have a surgery
for you in two days.” And I just remember thinking,
like, no! Like, can’t it be in a couple
weeks? And I said something along those
lines to her, like, “I’m supposed to…”
And she kind of looked at me and was like, “You need to get
this melanoma out of you now.” Yeah, the surgery came really
fast, and from then on out, like, World’s was out,
and I had to figure out what my next steps were. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:The tumour that
they took,
the margins on the outside
where it met my skin came back positive for melanoma. ♪♪♪ They knew then they hadn’t
gotten it all. ♪♪♪ And they tried one more time,
and it was the same result. The margins were positive
for melanoma. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:It comes to then
the stage four diagnosis.
I was so defeated at that point.I had been cut open five times. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:I was in pain,
I was so exhausted
mentally, physically. ♪♪♪ I met with my oncologist. She said that there were spots,
so she starts listing off that there were metastases
in my liver, in my bones, in the lymph nodes of my neck,
in my groin, and in my armpits. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:That was when everything
really hit me.
It’s almost like everything
wasn’t real
because we were trying
to fix it.
♪♪♪ TAMARA:And then she said
there’s no more surgery
we can do, and it made it really
real that, like, oh my God.
I really have cancer.♪♪♪ TAMARA:It was the worst day
of my life.
One hundred percent,
the worst day, and I’m, like, sad that I know
that, and that it probably always will be the worst day
of my life. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:You know, being
stage four,
I know that I will always have
cancer for the rest of my life,
and it will probably be
what kills me. It’s really scary. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:I don’t believe cancer
is a gift,
and there’s some people
who do say that –
especially people who have gone
through it, and are okay.
I don’t think cancer is a gift,
but it’s an awakening. So it woke me up.
It really woke me up. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:You know, I thought
I was strong before.
I thought, oh I can compete
at these international competitions, and I can perform
in front of a huge crowd, and, and I’ve mastered my
art of gymnastics, and you know? Like, look
how strong I am. I always… I thought that I,
I was, I was that person, and then… But what that…
That girl had no idea. She had no idea what was about
to happen. ♪♪♪ I feel bad for her. I feel really bad for her. But that girl, like, she didn’t
love herself. ♪♪♪ And she never considered herself
beautiful. And she hated how she looked,
you know? She never thought she would
really amount to anything huge other than in her sport,
and that’s so sad to me that that’s how I used to feel. ♪♪♪ I live my life with meaning now. ♪♪♪ TAMARA:Do I know where I’m
going to be in a year from now?
No idea. But living each day
with meaning
is something that’s so important
to me.
♪♪♪ I find I’m so much more thankful
for everything, and for moments I get
in my life. I, like, truly have never felt
so much love for myself. I’m so much more confident
in who I am. It’s hard to think, like, would
I trade the person I am now with not having cancer?
I don’t think I would. ♪♪♪ I don’t think I would want to be
that old girl because I’ve learned so much. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪

48 Comments

  • Graham-John Jeffries says:

    Bless your heart. Thank you for sharing your story. Cancer affects everyone. Stay strong and live fully with meaning and love.

  • Irene Veronica says:

    Wow! It's amazing how loving yourself made you so beautiful!

  • Zalina says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. An "awakening" to love yourself is powerful. It's never too late. Thank you for the message.

  • Tati says:

    Her name is Tamara, her name is Courage. Inspiring, strong, classy, enlightened, a Queen.

  • Esther B. says:

    I’m glad she didn’t say cancer is a gift. She has a great attitude without that nonsense

  • Michael C says:

    Watching this alone on Thanksgiving……both my parents have died to cancer and COPD…..I have made bad choices but I am fixing them……this video needs to seen it has me in tears. She is so strong.

  • Michael Bertelsen says:

    You are so beautiful,both inside and out. I wish I had your strength.

  • Joy Bee says:

    Praying for you! ❤️

  • synthesis 101 says:

    ~ many paths to reach higher Consciousness ~ I also have been dealing with 2-stage 4 cancers and I am ( with team allies ) claiming Life back : from a psychic, emotional, mental, physical * Spiritual SPACE * Choosing Life has a vibration frequency signature of its own !! Now, trying to recalibrate lymphatic system fluids in the neck area with a neck-head vibrator : it seems to dislodge congested canals… benefits in relaxing muscles tensions to help the whole body's fluidity ! Drinking plenty of osmosis water also contributes to eliminating toxins… Gest wishes to you and your ongoing deep healing processes ~ wonderful video as a Thanks Giving special * Thank you so very much – you are * Raising Conscious Awareness to a height of Pure Love for real Life personified }}}

  • Carl Borman says:

    Wow. Powerful video. Life is so precious. Tell your loved one you love them. You never know what comes next. Sending positive vibe

  • Geniasia Griffith says:

    I pray for this women. God bless you

  • Dina Zikopoulos says:

    Thank You Tamara for sharing your journey with us. I will keep you in my prayers. Stay positive! Always choose hope. ✨💖✨

  • Jamie Moors says:

    Love you so much Tamara ! Beautiful , brave and the most kind person I have ever known

  • Scary Funny says:

    WOW.
    I've been battling stage 4 cancer for 3 yrs now. It's not easy. It's suprising how strong you can be when you don't have any other choice.
    I feel the same way.
    It IS an awakening!
    I WISH YOU STRENGTH AND COURAGE.
    NEVER BACK DOWN AND NEVER GIVE UP.

  • c.a. greene says:

    Knowing in advance that your time is up allows you to be the bigger man, mend bridges, say all the things you would never say in polite conversation, if you lived to be 100.
    Most people never know when their time is coming, so they die without ever getting to change their lives for the better. Having been told 26 years ago to get my will in order, abort the baby inside me and I might live another month or two…I never did, my son is 25, he is a joy to be around and I am so proud of both my sons! I believe mind over matter has saved me, I don't mind so it don't matter! I have out lived 4 doctors who said my time was up! Only God knows when you will be called home to heaven! Put your faith in him! All things are possible!
    I will pray for you!
    God bless you!

  • Nat T says:

    I know it's completely random but there's something deeply unfair about a person getting a terminal cancer diagnosis so young. She has so many decades more that she should get to live.

  • Davey Morgan says:

    Wonderful Documentary .

  • B. John Doyle says:

    Dear Tamara,
    As far as I am concerned you are one of the greatest Canadian athletes of all time, right up there with Terry Fox.

  • sienna theoret says:

    rest easy❤️

  • Chris JArvis says:

    Such a beautiful soul, sent to heaven way too soon.

  • Галина Гончаренко says:

    Gone too soon, RIP Sweet Tamara

  • Shindler39 says:

    You are such an inspiration.
    God Bless You
    R.I.P. Tamara

  • ditrinipersian says:

    you are so beautiful and you are enough.

  • Robert Ray says:

    Did Tamara die?

  • Sailor Girl says:

    Thank you for sharing with all of us Tamara. A bittersweet reminder to enjoy every moment, have no regrets and tell those you love often. I wish you much laughter and love.

  • Trish Moon says:

    I almost didn't watch this video and am so glad I did. An real awakening…..

  • Emilee Watson says:

    This girl was my coaches bestfriend and she recently passed:/ rip

  • jai yen yen says:

    Not realizing how beautiful a person you are makes you even more beautiful, inside and out. You are what I feel young women should be, beautiful, strong, and an amazing attitude. I am not a religous man but in my heart I will pray for you, I wished I could do more.

  • Jenna Dethloff says:

    Rest In Peace sweet girl 🙁

  • René Gauthier says:

    stay strong! 🇨🇦

  • coachgeo says:

    RIP strong one. Your DM passes our now truly out of this world… soaring ever higher in the twists of the universe. Bless you for all whom you have touched.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius says:

    RIP courageous girl. I know you are watching us from heaven. You are so beautiful ❤️❤️❤️ and inspiring. You have a winner’s attitude. You are an example to all people on earth on how to live and how to die. You can give a lesson on how to die to all priests, pastors, rabbis, gurus, Hindus, bouddhists, etc. since you tower all of them. Again RIP beautiful girl. I will remember you.

  • Knighttus says:

    I’m so sorry, I know it’s tough but we’re all going to taste death one way or another god has a plan for you beautiful soul.

  • LaBambaC says:

    tender soul, rip. i see many other videos under your name, Tamara O'Brien, perhaps i can bring myself to see more of you one day. peace.

  • Brooke M. Campbell says:

    such a strong, and beautiful young woman … and so courageous to speak out this way. Bless your beautiful heart Tamara. Rest in eternal peace. Blessings and love to your loved ones left behind… they must miss you so much. xo

  • Priscilla Carey says:

    Om goodness I FEEL the pain in your voice/ video. I'm crying too.
    I too, just had brain surgery..to find out it is Metastatic Melonoma 5 weeks out of surgery. It's SO hard. Recovering – then the big diagnosis. Wow!!
    It changes someone when they finds out they're up against a very serious diagnosis like this. I find everyday everything is CLEAR every feeling, every smell,every moment with a lived one..etc… Sad moments are gasping.
    I wish you LOVE and strength!
    !Stay strong AND fight!!
    💚💙💜🧡💛xoxo
    🧡💜💙💚!

  • Paralyzer says:

    Wow she was so pretty! So sad to hear she has passed. God needed one of his angels back. Maybe you are in heaven now and hopefully you get to read this.
    Rest in peace Tamara 😰❤️❤️❤️

  • LynnV S says:

    We are always chasing dwn the extra dollar or next goal. We are always valued by what we do for a living. It's always the 1st thing ppl ask you. Noone asks you if you're happy or if you feel well or anything these days. We waste $ and time to have the cutest !*things*( cars homes handbags clothes). But do we ever just stop to realize that we are all dying and this all could end?

  • Shannon Etheridge says:

    Thank you for sharing. Many don't know. Not enough attention is given to skin cancer. I am stage 4 melanoma unknown primary at time if diagnosis. I'm in healthcare and vigilant about my health. I looked good on paper working 70 hour weeks and exercising daily. My back broke. My melanoma is a genetic mutation and now I'm in a battle to live. Skin cancer doesn't always affect the skin and in fact doesn't in up to 4 percent of pts with metastatic disease. Shannon NP-C

  • Mark Davies says:

    RIP Tamara – Thank you for sharing your story with those of us who are also in a battle for our lives, for educating those who will be fighting this battle one day, and helping people understand this disease better. My condolences to your family and friends at your passing.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius says:

    God she was so cute !!!💋

  • Brenda Durr says:

    Take charge of your life. There are many natural things you can do. You can do it. Please FIGHT. Maybe traditional medicine has ran out of options. I want you to know there is MORE.
    There are things you can do in this moment. You are Precious. Your life is Precious. I'm in this fight with you. Let's go. You have nothing to lose.

  • April P. says:

    She died 2 days after this was uploaded. Rest in peace, Tamara.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius says:

    Exceptional woman. Really exceptional. Unique.

  • Samantha Lynn says:

    "I don't think I would want to be that old girl because I've learned so much." SAME. An "awakening" is a great way to put it and she explained everything so well. RIP

  • New Yorker says:

    Rest In Peace Tamara, I understand totally why some people dislike this video. You can’t like cancer and specially on young people. I could not press like, nothing to like it here. She is gone 💔

  • Busty Blonde Beach Bunny says:

    How sad. I was going to say keep fighting Tamara o' Brien But then I read she sadly passed away October 15, 2019. Gone way too soon. It bother's me even more when somebody so young dies of cancer. God has another angel.

  • Odd Solberg says:

    Wow! Thank you. I need to wake up myself, but its hard when things are going good.
    We earn and long for living good, better, but when better comes along, im not able to really appriciate the new better situation i fond My self in.
    Listening to you helps me focus on the moment. Thank you.

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