A Fearless Fan in Tara Daniels

She extends her hand, with nails decorated in art, sparkling with
blue crystals and glittery polish. Dressed in a cute zebra-patterned
hoodie and a black summer skirt with flip flops, 16-year-old Tara Daniels greets us with strikingly expressive eyes and bright smile.

“It’s nice to meet you,” she says, leaning on her mother for support.

We sit with her for a few minutes, as the Bellingham High School
junior muses about going to the prom that night in a beautiful teal
dress. She speaks of playing soccer, how much she loves to run, how
competitive she can be with her older brother, and how she enjoys
cooking. Tara loves to work with children, loves to write, even had a
poem published in eighth grade, and hopes to be a journalist one day.
She is that overachieving teenager that people point to as the next
community and potential world changer.

“OK, we’re ready to go,” the nurse calls to us as we stop our interview and head into the treatment rooms.

Gingerly, Tara walks down the hall to her bed, perches on it, and
energetically engages in conversation as the nurse hooks her up to her
usual medications.

“I
have this — that goes through a major vein toward my heart,” she says,
pointing at a hard broch-like shell taped to her chest.

She explains how “cool” modern medicine is, and how she once had
four different tubes delivering medication, water and vitamins to her
system.

“It usually takes me an hour,” she explains. “Sometimes, less, but
then I have to wait an hour anyway to see how the drugs affect me.”

There’s a fearlessness about Tara that’s mesmerizing. The logic with
which she speaks of her leukemia is like that of a reporter. She
explains her own timeline, from the days leading up to her diagnosis,
and the road to recovery ahead. Fighting the effects of the medication,
she continues to enthusiastically converse with us.

“I love the Red Sox,” she says. “I love the Bruins.”

Who are her favorite players? Milan Lucic and Tim Thomas.

“The Bruins visit the Jimmy Fund in the summers,” I explain. “We’re
going to try and get a couple of guys here maybe in July or August. I
think last year Patrice Bergeron was here.”

She smiles and sighs, partly in love with the idea, and partly in pure adoration of Bergeron.

But
in the midst of our conversation, Tara dips into a state of fatigue and
fogginess, no longer able to fight the effects of the medication. We
step out of the room to speak with her pediatric nurse practitioner, Elisa Frederick,
and learn more about the reality of the cancer, and the medical
progression that has allowed survival rates to bring promise to cases
like Tara’s.

“We have to make sure she can wake up and dance tonight,” Frederick says.

Tara’s story, and the stories of many more in the fight against
cancer will air on our Jimmy Fund Telethon broadcast on Aug. 27 and 28.
Thank you to our viewers in advance for your support.

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